Halep crushes Bouchard to keep Slam dream alive


Romania's Simona Halep hits a return against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard during their women's singles second ...
Romania's Simona Halep hits a return against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard during their women's singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL CROCK

 

World number one Simona Halep kept her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title on course by cruising into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Romanian top seed needed just an hour and five minutes to sweep to an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over Eugenie Bouchard on Margaret Court Arena.

“I thought that I played well tonight,” said Halep, who dominated the encounter.

“I hit the ball really well and it is always tough against her as she hits hard from the baseline.”

Four years ago this match-up was the Wimbledon semi-final, which the then up-and-coming teenager Bouchard won 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 after Halep was compromised by an ankle injury.

Halep has since risen to number one while Bouchard, once touted as the game’s new golden girl, has tumbled outside the top 100.

Romania's Simona Halep hits a return against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard during their women's singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul Crock
Romania’s Simona Halep hits a return against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard during their women’s singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul Crock

There was no chance of a Wimbledon repeat as the 23-year-old’s form woes were cruelly exposed by Halep who broke the Canadian’s serve at will.

So poor was Bouchard’s delivery that she couldn’t hold on to her serve a single time during a first set which Halep ripped through 6-2 in 33 minutes

She finally held serve in the third game of the second set to sympathetic cheers from the Margaret Court Arena crowd.

But it was to be the only time in the match as Halep, scampering around the baseline, showed few ill-effects from rolling her ankle worryingly in her first-round win over Destanee Aiava.

“I felt the pain but I didn’t think about it,” said Halep of her fragile ankle which was heavily taped.

“Even if I’m a little bit injured I still managed to move well. I want to win every time I play.”

The 26-year-old Romanian, who currently has no clothing sponsor, was wearing the same “lucky” red dress that she used while registering a dominant victory at the Shenzhen Open just over a fortnight ago.

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates beating Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in their women's singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul Crock
Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates beating Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in their women’s singles second round match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul Crock

She found the outfit on the internet. “Was a (web)site, in China actually, and one of my managers helped me, and in 24 hours I had the outfit, and it was perfect. I was lucky,” she had said before her first-round match.

It helped her fight back from 5-2 and set point down against Australian teen Aiava.

But Halep needed no extra help Thursday to overcome the sadly out-of-form Bouchard.

She will face unseeded American Lauren Davis on Saturday for a place in the last 16 as the Romanian continues her quest for a first Grand Slam title.

 

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