WATCH—Halep Wimbledon Day 4 desk interview:
World No. 1 Simona Halep survived a tight first set—and then rolled through the second set to beat China’s Zheng Saisai and reach the third round of Wimbledon. The 7-5, 6-0 win extended the French Open champion's Grand Slam winning streak to nine consecutive matches.
With the rash of upsets in the women’s draw—five of the Top 8 seeds have already lost—Zheng raised some eyebrows after jumping out to a 5-3 lead in the first set. She even got within two points of taking the set with Halep serving at 3-5, 30-all.
But the top-seeded Romanian found her groove right when it mattered most, reeling off the next 10 games in a row to move through to the third round.
“It was definitely a tough first set,” a relieved Halep said right after coming off the court. “She played really well, mixed the rhythm and hit some good slices, so it was tough for me to get my rhythm.
“But when I started feeling my game it was much better.”
WATCH—Match point from Halep's win over Zheng:
Halep’s mid-match adjustment showed in the post-match statistics: in the first set she made 15 unforced errors, but in a far cleaner second set she made just four.
“I just stopped missing,” she said. “I was just trying to put a bit less power in my shots and redirect the ball better. I was also trying to open the court and make her run.”
Awaiting Halep in the third round is Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei, who beat Lara Arruabarrena, 6-3, 6-3. Hsieh beat the No. 30 seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, in the first round. Halep beat Hsieh in their only previous encounter at Cincinnati in 2013, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2.
In her post-match press conference, Halep was asked whether being a major champion adds any extra additional pressure.
“Pressure, no. Definitely no. No more,” she said. “I’m relaxed. Of course, it’s not easy to play on grass. I didn’t have any official matches before this. But step by step I’m starting to feel the game better. Even if I have pain everywhere because of the grass, I’ll get used to it.
“On grass you never know what’s going to happen, so I’m just going there very focused.”
Strokes of Genius is a world-class documentary capturing the historic 13-year rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship – an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself.