Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Halep, Stephens bundled out in Sydney

Alex de Minaur staged an incredible second-set tiebreak comeback against Reilly Opelka Alex de Minaur staged an incredible second-set tiebreak comeback against Reilly Opelka
Kristopher Love | 12 January, 2019, 15:26

Halep had the first break of serve in the second set and even served to make it 5-3 but Barty rattled off successive breaks to take the set 6-4 and complete a straight-set win over the French Open victor.

Her play improved from there.

Halep won their previous two meetings last summer but she wasn't a clear favorite today, struggling with a back injury for months and not winning a match since Cincinnati back in August when she won the title. "In extremely tricky conditions, [I was] very happy with the way I was able to keep it kind of together". "Just very happy I was able to come out and executive".

The 22-year-old struggled after missing the first but she did enough to prevail as the victor, fending off nine out of 11 break points she faced to seal the deal and celebrate a huge triumph after believing in herself all the time, even when she was a break down in set number two. 'She gave me a belting in Montreal.

"It was extremely hard conditions and extremely swirly at court level", Barty said afterwards.

After losing to Halep in their last two encounters a year ago in Cincinnati and Montreal, Barty said she had finally learned her lesson. 'The biggest thing, I believed that I could I win.

"I certainly fear no one and I feel like I can go out there and match it with the world's best", Barty said. We're both out here on the same court.

Halep had to win the 10th game to extend the match but she wasted a game point before she sprayed a backhand error to suffer a break and send the youngster into the last eight where she will face Anett Kontaveit or Elise Mertens.

Having defeated Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-4 in her opening round match, the world number 16 withdrew before her match against the Dutchwoman Bertens.

"I dug myself into a hole and said 'look mate, just be aggressive, '" she revealed.

Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur has cut down the equal-tallest man in professional tennis to move into the Sydney International quarter-finals for a second straight year.

Kazakh qualifier Yulia Putintseva came back from a set and a break down to beat fourth seed Sloane Stephens 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-0 in a roller-coaster second round encounter.