Former world number one Simona Halep defeated Emma Raducanu’s conqueror Danka Kovinic to cruise into the last 16 of the 2022 Australian Open. With Saturday’s 6-2, 6-1 victory over the Montenegrin, Halep bettered her season record to 8-0 and her record in the third round of the grand slams to 21-3. She has won all six sets she has played in at the Australian Open so far and has only lost 12 games. The two-time grand slam winner will now play French veteran Alize Cornet, who beat Slovenia’s 29th seed Tamara Zidansek 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Halep has won all eight of her matches this year and won the Adelaide WTA event in the build-up to a tournament. “I feel great that I can play the fourth round again. I always love to play in Australia so that’s why maybe i play good matches”, said Halep.
“Close (to my best level). I feel like i played great, she was a little bit tired, she had a tough match before me, but it’s always a big challenge to step on to this court and give your best
“I am really pleased with the way I played and I am looking to the next one.”
The 14th-seeded Romanian came into the first major of the year full of confidence after her first title in 16 months at the Melbourne Summer Set and was always in charge against Kovinic. She raced through the first set and broke early in the second to power her way past the 27-year-old to book a showdown with Cornet, who had secured an upset win over Spanish superstar Garbine Muguruza in the second round.
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka fought her way past Marketa Vondrousova to join Halep in the fourth round. The Belarusian, bidding to reach the semifinal at the Melbourne Park for the first time, came from behind to beat the Czech 31st seed 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Another gritty comeback win from @SabalenkaA 👏
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2022
She will face Kaia Kanepi next after the Estonian beat Australian wild card Maddison Inglis 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. Sabalenka had tallied 31 double faults in two matches at Melbourne Park so far, and 70 from matches this season, but only suffered 10 against Marketa.
“I am really happy right now and mostly happy that I made only 10 double faults,” said Sabalenka, a semi finalist last year at both Wimbledon and the US Open.
“She played unbelievable tennis today and I pushed myself really hard. I’ll just keep working on my serve and keep hoping it gets better match-by-match.”
Marketa took a 5-3 lead in the opening set and while Sabalenka only sent down four double faults she couldn’t turn it around. But the second seed found her way back and the 23-year-old responded with the same fighting spirit, immediately breaking the Czech to race 3-0 clear in the second set.
She fired just three double faults to seal the set and turned up the pressure on Marketa with an early break to move 3-1 clear in the deciding set. Two more breaks enabled her to victory.