Wimbledon 2017: Simona Halep, Venus Williams enter women’s singles last 16
Simona Halep powered past China’s Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6(7) to enter women’s singles last 16 at Wimbledon 2017. The second seed will now face Victoria Azarenka for a place in the quarter-finals. On the other hand, five-time champion Venus Williams beat Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-6(3) 6-4 to reach the fourth round.tennis Updated: Jul 07, 2017 23:35 IST
Second seed Simona Halep brought the Wimbledon women’s draw to order on Friday after recent upsets with a 6-4 7-6(7) win over China’s Peng Shuai.
The 25-year-old Romanian, who could capture the No.1 spot if she reaches the semi-finals at Wimbledon, wore down her 31-year-old opponent with heavy groundstrokes from the baseline, clipping the lines with her penetrating forehands.
Looking to assuage the disappointment of losing the French Open final last month to Jelena Ostapenko from a set and 3-0 up, Halep did not have an easy ride on a sweltering Court Two.
Peng, ranked 37 and no slouch on grass after winning the doubles title here in 2013, broke back to force the tiebreak when Halep looked to be cruising home in the second set. The pair slugged it out until Halep served an ace for a second match point and Peng sent a ball long to concede the match.
Third seed Karolina Pliskova and 12th seed Kristina Mladenovic lost on Thursday, opening up the women’s competition, that was already missing seven times champion Serena Williams.
Venus, Ostapenko advance
Five-time champion Venus Williams beat Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-6(3) 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the 15th time at Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko needed an hour and 20 minutes to see off Italian Camila Giorgi 7-5 7-5 in the third round.
Azarenka downs Watson
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka fought back to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon with a gritty 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over British wild card Heather Watson on Friday.
Competing in her first Grand Slam since taking a year off to have her first child in December, Azarenka is bidding to become the first mother to win Wimbledon in 37 years.
In just her second tournament following son Leo’s birth, the 27-year-old Belarusian had to dig deep to beat battling home favourite Watson on Centre Court.
Watson, the world number 102, made a fast start as she looked to make the fourth round for the first time.
But after a sloppy first set from Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open champion stepped on the gas to keep alive her attempt to emulate Evonne Goolagong, who was the last Wimbledon mum to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish in 1980.
Only Goolagong, Margaret Court and Kim Clijsters have won a Grand Slam singles title after having a child.
“The whole match I was a little bit on the back foot. The second set I started to step in a little bit more,” Azarenka said.
“I still feel that I should clean up my game a little bit but I’m very happy that I stayed tough in the important moments and took my opportunities because the third set was a little bit up and down.
“I really played well in the important moments. I really stepped up.
“Definitely these are the matches that you’re looking for, trying to find a way when not everything goes great so I was very happy that I was able to stay tough and find other ways to win.”
Azarenka, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2011 and 2012, will play Halep on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.