Rome, May 9: Former world number ones Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka recorded contrasting victories against their respective rivals and advanced to the second round of the Italian Open here on Monday.
Halep earned 6-4, 6-4 revenge on Alize Cornet in 1 hour and 25 minutes, after No.16 seed Azarenka defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-3, 6-0.
Halep, the 2020 Rome champion, had come into the match trailing Cornet 1-4 in a rivalry dating back to 2011, including a heartbreaking 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win by the French woman in the fourth. round of this year’s Australian Open. Ella pero ella overcame two sets that were hotly contested at each end, successfully navigating all of the most competitive moments of the match.
The Romanian prepares for a second-round clash against Australian Open finalist and No.7 seed Danielle Collins.
Both sets followed a similar pattern: an absorbing trio of breaks in the early stages followed by a period of dominance from Halep to carve out a double-break lead. Halep then failed to close out any of the sets at 5-1 and 5-2, respectively. The trouble Cornet has caused Halep in the past was evident in the drop shot battles that opened the match, and her latest turn to hard, flat shots as he hung on for the second set.
A sloppy game comprising two forehand errors and two double faults at 5-1 in the first set was just a problem. Arriving at the line at 5-4, Halep came out on top in two spectacular, lung-busting rallies to close out the opening act. At the same stage in the second set, some good first serves sealed the win.
Just over a week ago, Azarenka overcame a tough debut in Madrid against Golubic 7-6(5), 6-3. The Rome 2013 finalist enjoyed her victory here in just 68 minutes, losing just five points behind her first serve and beating 12 of her last 14 points.
“The start of the match was a bit nervous, and in the first game I missed some easy balls,” Azarenka said after the match.
Azarenka will next face either Camila Osorio or wild card Lucia Bronzetti.