Thursday, 21 February, 2019

French Open 2018: Simona Halep rewarded for patience after risky start

French Open Venus Williams Jelena Ostapenko and the pressure of top-level tennis French Open 2018: Simona Halep rewarded for patience after risky start
Kristopher Love | 31 May, 2018, 21:29

Rafael Nadal racked up his 80th win at the French Open on Tuesday as the 10-time champion defeated Italian lucky loser Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (11/9) to reach the second round, but then blasted the showpiece Philippe Chatrier Court for being too slippery.

Simona Halep converted her fifth match point to win her 14th straight match in Madrid and stay on track for a third consecutive title in the Spanish capital.

Mixing well deep groundstrokes with subtle shots, Bolelli obtained another set point with a backhand drop shot when to lead 7-6, but Nadal hit a service victor on the next point.

Top seed Simona Halep reached the second round of the French Open a day later than expected and not without a fright as she recovered from a slow start to beat American Alison Riske 2-6 6-1 6-1 on Wednesday.

"I went through tough moments, it's important for the future", Nadal said.

After getting rained off the schedule on Monday night, two-time champion Maria Sharapova made a comeback to the tournament after missing the 2016 and 2017 editions. After some more raindrops interrupted play again on Tuesday morning, Nadal came back on court in full swing. Nadal saved four break points in the eighth game of the final set, including one with a ferocious trademark cross-court forehand victor.

"I'm very happy, I played more aggressive than in the first round, so I'm very happy with that", said Nadal.

Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov eased to a 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australian John Millman in his first ever main-draw French Open match.

Third seed and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza defeated 2009 victor Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (7/0), 6-2.

After beating Serena Williams in the 2016 final, Muguruza's title defence was ended in the fourth round a year ago. But the former world number one has only played five singles matches since giving birth to her daughter and may need to move up a gear from her victory over the 70th-ranked Pliskova.