WATCH: Simona Halep wins Roland Garros for her first Grand Slam title
After both players won rain-postponed second-round matches earlier in the day, Simona Halep and Venus Williams squared off on Centre Court at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Thursday night, for a spot in the quarterfinals. At the end of the marathon day, it was Halep who emerged, moving past Williams comfortably, 6-2, 6-2.
Both players had overcome tough tests in the afternoon. Halep battled back from 4-2 down in the third set to edge Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after three hours and seven minutes, 7-6 (9), 4-6, 7-5, while Williams snuck past Sorana Cirstea in a tight two-setter in an hour and 30 minutes, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
But Williams had been struggling with her movement all day, her knee taped, and Halep took full advantage. She won back-to-back love games to jump out to a 2-0 lead and never really looked back. There were times where it looked like Williams might come alive—she fought off four set points before surrendering the first set, won two games in a row to close the Romanian's second set lead from 3-0 to 3-2, and fought off two match points as the world No. 1 served for it at 6-2, 5-2. But Halep ripped one last down-the-line backhand winner on her third match point to close out the No. 13-seeded American after just an hour and 11 minutes on court.
“It’s never easy to play either of the Williams sisters, and even though she was struggling, I knew I had to be focused on every ball, and stay focused until the end,” Halep said in her on-court interview.
“She wasn’t feeling great on the court and it definitely wasn’t her best day, but I just tried to focus on my own game as much as possible and make her move. And I’m happy to be the quarterfinals now.”
Halep is now into the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup for the fourth year in a row. She was a runner-up in 2015 (retiring against Belinda Bencic in the final due to heat illness), won the title in 2016 (beating Madison Keys in the final) and reached the semis in 2017 (falling to Elina Svitolina).
Awaiting Halep in Friday’s quarterfinals will be the No. 6 seed, Caroline Garcia, who defeated former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the first match of the Thursday's night session, 6-3 6-2.
Halep leads Garcia in their head-to-head, 4-1, and they played in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup last year. Halep won that one, 6-4 6-2.
Garcia’s only career win over Halep was a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory in the final of the Premier Mandatory event in Beijing last October.
“I’ll think more about Garcia tomorrow after I have a good sleep tonight, and actually now I have to have dinner, because I didn’t eat much tonight,” Halep said. “Caroline’s a very tough opponent and it’s going to be a tough match, but I’m here to give everything I have and of course fight until the end.”
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.