Fired-up fifth seed Simona Halep reached the third round of the US Open on Thursday with a straight-sets victory over Lucie Safarova in a battle of former French Open finalists under the new roof of Arthur Ashe stadium.
In the first match to be played from start to finish under the closed roof, Romania’s Halep triumphed 6-3, 6-4.
She showed a flash of frustration after letting an early break get away in the opening frame, but she won the last three games to pocket the set and sealed the win when Safarova double-faulted on match point -- one of 11 breaks of serve in the contest.
Halep apologised for her racquet-swiping fit of pique.
“I know it’s not nice,” she said. “But I can’t control my emotions. I’m trying, but I can’t do it.”
Halep, who shot to prominence with a run to the 2014 French Open final, reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows last year, losing to eventual champion Flavia Pennetta.
She hasn’t been much of a factor at this year’s three prior Slams, making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, the fourth round at Roland Garros and failing to win a match at the Australian Open.
But she said her confidence is high after a strong hardcourt build-up that included a victory in Montreal and she enjoyed the experience of playing under the new $150 million roof -- which was closed as morning rain delayed the start of play on outside courts for an hour.
“It was amazing to have this experience,” said Halep, although the closed roof didn’t relieve all climate problems.
“I was a little cold,” she said. “I felt the air conditioning.”