Simona Halep began the French Open as the favorite. She’s consolidated that status through the first week.
Halep aced her first seeded test of the tournament, dumping No. 25 Amanda Anisimova 6-0, 6-1 in a 54-minute third-round match. A year ago, an 18-year-old Anisimova stunned Halep 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals to end the Romanian’s title defense.
On Friday, Halep played like retribution was on her mind. She committed just seven unforced errors to Anisimova’s 32.
“I felt motivated,” the No. 1 seed said. “I took the game in my hands. Last year I was very far from the court, and I played fairly short so she could play her game. When she has time, and she has the ball in the right position, she is very, very dangerous.”
Halep hasn’t dropped a set in three matches as she seeks a third Grand Slam singles title in as many years. She next gets 54th-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland.
Halep became a bigger favorite at Roland Garros before play began after 2019 champion Ash Barty and recent U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka announced they would not play.
With Serena Williams‘ withdrawal Wednesday, Halep is the only player left in the top half of the draw who has made a major final.
“I don’t feel the pressure,” Halep said. “I’m not thinking about title.”
She has been lights-out since competition picked up back in the summer, winning both of her tournaments. Both happened to be on clay. She skipped the U.S. Open, staying in Europe and focusing on the terre battue.
“I feel my game very well,” Halep said Friday. “I feel that I can stay forever on court.”
Also Friday, Rafael Nadal continued his dominant march toward a potential 13th French Open title and 20th Grand Slam singles title to tie Roger Federer‘s male record. Nadal swept Italian Stefano Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. He gets American Sebastian Korda in the fourth round on Sunday.
“I don’t feel that I am that dominant,” said Nadal, who has dropped an average of six games in three matches. “The result says, but the game is another story. Every single match is a challenge.”
Korda, the 20-year-old son of 1998 Australian Open champ Petr Korda, became the youngest U.S. man to reach the fourth round since Michael Chang in 1991. He defeated a fellow qualifier, Spaniard Pedro Martinez, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem marched into the fourth round by sweeping dangerous clay-courter and 28th seed Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets French wild card Hugo Gaston. Gaston knocked out 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
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