Simona Halep gives herself ‘less than nine out of 10’ but shows title form
Fifth seed Simona Halep blasted her way into the second round of the US Open yesterday by demolishing Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-2, underlining her credentials as a potential grand slam winner.
Halep, a winner of three WTA Tour events this season, including a hardcourt title in Montreal, carried her superb form into Flushing Meadows as she needed just one hour on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to dismiss the 56th-ranked Belgian.
Flipkens, a former grand slam semi-finalist who advanced to the last 16 at the Rio Olympics, look headed for a humiliating “double bagel” as Halep swept through the opening 11 games.
But with Halep serving for the match, Flipkens broke her Romanian opponent before thrusting her arms into the air in mock triumph.
Flipkens held serve for the first time but her late resistance only prolonged the inevitable as Halep closed out the rout to set up a second-round meeting with Lucie Safarova.
Czech player and former world No 5 Safarova had little trouble in advancing as she overcame Australia’s Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-4. The Australian No 2 broke down after losing to the 2015 French Open finalist.
“I give myself less than nine out of 10,” Halep said after her win.
Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic could do nothing as her game fell apart in the second set to lose 7-6, 6-1 to Denisa Allertova.
The 29th-seeded Serb was expected to ease past her Czech opponent. But after losing an opening-set tie-break, Ivanovic’s form deserted her, winning only one more game.
“I really feel like I have to reassess because I have been putting so many hours on court and in the gym trying to get my body healthy,” she said after a performance that included 41 unforced errors.
“It’s been very frustrating not getting anything in return, because I really feel like I invested my heart.”
Heather Watson made a tearful first-round exit after succumbing to qualifier Richel Hogenkamp 6-2, 7-5.
Watson has never made it past the opening round and her latest attempt was undermined by illness and injury.
Watson called a medical time-out at the end of the first set after she doubled over in discomfort on her chair, and was in tears as she was tended to by the doctor.
The Briton appeared to be having trouble with her breathing, but after a long delay was able to return to the court.
The former British No 1 had two set points to level the contest, only to spurn them, and was then promptly broken herself to pave the way for Hogenkamp to claim victory.
In the men’s draw, Kei Nishikori fought to reach the second round. The Japanese sixth seed, who fell to Marin Cilic in the 2014 final, quashed German Benjamin Becker’s rally attempt, emerging with a 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory on the new Grandstand court in two hours, 10 minutes.
“It was a great feeling,” Nishikori said. “I have great memories here and I always love coming back to New York.”
Nishikori appeared to be on his way to a quick win when he put away the first two sets in 49 minutes. But things then got complicated against the 96th-ranked Becker.
“He can really be aggressive from the serve, and second ball here he was attacking really well,” Nishikori said. “He’s dangerous.”
Nishikori, however, finally gained the break he needed and served out with a love game.
British No 2 Dan Evans progressed after beating American Rajeev Ram in four sets.
Evans has only once before gone past the first round at Flushing Meadows but he was a convincing winner, beating Ram 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov also advanced safely, beating Spain’s Inigo Cervantes 6-2, 6-4, 7-6.
Spain’s David Ferrer, the 11th seed, went through when his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov retired injured in the first set.
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Updated: August 30, 2016 04:00 AM