Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button Follow Me on Pinterest
NewsVideosLive ScoresTV ListingsTournamentsRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastMagazine

By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, September 27, 2020

Acceleration is an asset of Simona Halep’s game.

Down a break in her Roland Garros opener, Halep was tap-dancing on the terre battue eager to burst off the baseline.

More: Halep Has Clear Path To No. 1 Ranking

The top-seeded Romanian revved up her competitive engine roaring through 10 straight games closing a 6-4, 6-0 conquest of Sara Sorrbes Tormo.

Halep celebrated her 29th birthday stretching her winning streak to a career-best 15 matches and solidified her status as the French Open favorite.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli led the scattered fans singing "Happy Birthday" to Halep afterward.

"The perfect present was that I won today, of course. It was really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday," Halep said. "So it's going to be pretty unique maybe forever. I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottleof water."

Since the tour resumed over the summer, Halep been clay-court queen reeling off 11 consecutive victories on dirt, including powering to the Prague title and defeating 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza and 2019 Rome champ Karolina Pliskova in succession capturing her 22nd career championship in Rome.

Launching her quest for her second Roland Garros crown in the last three years—and to supplant 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty as world No. 1—Halep showed some nerves at the start then geared up her game and blew past the 70th-ranked Spaniard. Halep broke down the Sorribes Tormo slice backhand and battered her serve winning 24 of 39 points played on the Spaniard's first serve and converting six of nine break points.

The Romanian baseliner was seeded first when she won her maiden major in Paris two years ago and believes that experience will help her cope with the pressure and expectation of her top-seeded status this time around.

“It's not extra pressure,” Halep said. “I'm used to this kind of pressure because I've been No. 1 seeded in the past. I've been in this position.

“So, no, I take it in a right way, and I take it as a normal tournament. So no extra pressure for me, it's just a positive pressure that I have.”

Even playing beneath the closed Philippe Chatrier roof, Halep came prepared for the cool conditions wearing a long-sleeved purple Nike top and black leggings beneath her pink skirt. She was dressed down compared to coach Darren Cahill, who sported a black ski parka in the coaches box.

Sorribes Tormo drew first blood jumping all offer a meek Halep second serve and following her forehand forward where she knocked off a volley breaking for 3-1.

First rounds can be stumbling blocks even for elite champions as Halep well knows having suffered consecutive opening-round exits in Paris in 2012 and 2013 before breaking through to the 2014 French Open final.

At the outset, the 2018 champion was jittery in her first meeting vs. Sorribes Tormo. The 70th-ranked Spaniard, who did not play Rome, was grunting with vigor and mixing her high-bounding topspin forehand with her slithering slice backhand coaxing Halep into a backhand error to break again for 4-2.

Sorribes Tormo was feisty, but her early lead just fired up Halep who stopped muttering to herself and started to play with focus.

Settling into longer rallies, Halep used her signature shot—the backhand down the line—to break back in the seventh game.

The top seed found her range and rhythm midway through the set. Halep played with more patience, constructed points with more care and cruised through 16 of the last 20 points of the opening set— Including a pair of love holds—snatching a one-set lead.

"At the beginning I just wanted to be aggressive and to hit the balls everywhere," Halep said. "But she was so strong on the legs,and she didn't miss at all. And also, her ball is coming a little bit higher and with a lot of topspin, so it's not easy to play from, you know, up to the shoulder. 

"And then I just started to open the court better, to go slower, and to work for every ball, which I did very well. And drop shots."

Tennis Express

A clever bounce slice smash gave Halep her fourth consecutive break to start the second set.

The two-time Grand Slam champion put on the afterburners accelerating through the final 10 games to close in 82 minutes.

It was Halep's 18th victory in her last 20 Roland Garros matches. She will play Swiss Jil Teichmann or compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu in round two.


Latest News