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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday July 4, 2022

 
Simona Halep

Simona Halep returned to Centre Court for the first time since the 2019 final, and was devastating.

Photo Source: Getty

Last week at SW19, Simona Halep was relegated to No.1 Court on her first Wimbledon match since winning the title in 2019. Many felt that Simona Halep was given the short end of the stick by Wimbledon schedulers, who chose to give Iga Swiatek the honor of opening Centre Court on Day 2.

Tennis Express

The slot traditionally goes to the defending champion, but with Ash Barty retired as of March and the tournament not being held in 2020, Wimbledon elected to give Roland-Garros champion Swiatek – and her then 35-match winning streak the spot.

No big deal.

Halep earned the honor on Monday, after blasting through to the fourth round without dropping a set, and on Monday she made the most of the opportunity by putting on a breathtaking performance against Paula Badosa.

Halep hit 17 winners against nine unforced errors in her 6-1, 6-2 drubbing of the fourth-seeded Spaniard, which elicited memories of the Romanian’s dazzling final against Williams in 2019. In that match Halep hit 13 winners and committed just three unforced errors to win her second major title and first at Wimbledon.

It is considered one of the best performance in a Wimbledon final of all-time.

What does Halep like most about the grass? Speed...

"It's not easy to answer because grass is not an easy surface, and you have to really connect with it," she said. "You have to get used to it. I like because it's fast I think. I feel it. I feel stable on the feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. Yeah, I like it because it's fast I think. Yeah, it's inside me. It's a good surface for me. I feel like my game fits it."

Today Halep was back with a vengeance, professing her love for Wimbledon’s field of dreams, and displaying form that is good enough to make her the favorite to reach the final in the top half of the draw that has since been abandoned by top-seeded Swiatek.


Halep, seeded 16, has now won her last 19 sets at Wimbledon, and will face 20th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova in the quarterfinals.

With no other Top-10 players remaining in the top half of the draw, the Romanian is looking like the favorite to reach the final.

But challenges certainly loom.

Anisimova impressively took down Harmony Tan of France on Monday, 6-2, 6-3, and will look to recreate the magic of her victory over the Romanian in the 2019 Roland-Garros quarterfinals. Since then Anisimova has struggled to find the same stellar form, both overall and against Halep.

It hasn’t been easy for Anisimova over the last three years. Her father and coach Konstantin passed away suddenly due to a heart attack at the age of 52 in 2019, leaving the promising teenager, understandably, lost. She then suffered myriad injuries over the last few seasons, and fell outside of the Top-80, but in 2022 she has rediscovered her form.

Anisimova has twice defeated Naomi Osaka at the Slams, and owns a 7-6 record against Top-20 players this year. She is 29-9 on the season, and 13-6 in three-setters, including a stunning victory over No.11-seeded Coco Gauff in the third round on her Centre Court debut on Saturday.

Anisimova had never been past the second round at Wimbledon prior to this season, but looks like a natural on the surface.

“She's not an easy player to play, especially on this surface,” Gauff said of Anisimova on Saturday. “I think grass, she can do a lot of damage on. She's obviously good on clay. But I think grass is a good surface for her, especially the way she hits the ball, it's pretty flat.

“I think she has got a good shot of pretty much going all the way to the final. If she plays like she did those last two sets against me, I think that's some top-notch tennis right there.”

Halep has blitzed Anisimova in their last two meetings, and dropped just three games against her in the quarterfinals at Bad Homburg late last month.

But she’ll be facing a much more confident player when the pair meet for a spot in the semifinals.


 

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