WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND—Simona Halep had spent most of the last 10 days playing her effortless game on the smaller show courts here. Despite being the No. 3 seed and a French Open finalist last month, the no-drama Romanian had remained the walking definition of “under the radar” at the All England Club.
Today, Halep would be ignored no longer. She took her place on Centre Court against Sabine Lisicki, and as she usually does, she made anyone who appreciates quality tennis sit up and pay attention. After being briefly overpowered by Lisicki and going down 1-4 in the first, Halep proceeded to play and run circles around the bamboozled and increasingly helpless German for the last 11 games. Halep's 6-4, 6-0 win was nothing spectacular on the stat sheet—she hit 16 winners and made 10 errors—but it was comprehensive nonetheless. Halep won 63 points to Lisicki’s 40, and made last year's finalist looks like she was standing still in the process.
Lisicki was the stronger player to start, and she pushed the smaller Halep around early. Serving at 4-2, though, Lisicki opened the door when she missed a series of first serves, giving Halep her first chance to get her teeth into the rallies. Halep made the most of the opportunity, as she jumped on Lisicki’s second serve with her forehand. From there, the flow of the points turned in her favor, and Halep showed off her flowing game at its finest. Jumping for forehands, hitting them in combinations to the corners, changing directions with the ball at will, she looked like she was playing a different sport than Lisicki. At the same time, Sabine went into full crumble mode, unable, it seemed, to control the ball off her strings on any of her shots.
Halep moves on to play her second straight Grand Slam semifinal, and first Wimbledon semifinal, against Genie Bouchard. It’s a promising match between the two fastest-rising women players of 2014. Halep won their only meeting, in three sets, in Indian Wells this past March.
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