Tournament favorite Simona Halep is all set to meet the “young dark horse” Daria Kasatkina for a spot in the Fourth Round on Saturday.
Halep is coming off a straight sets victory over German veteran Tatjana Maria 6-4, 6-3 in the second round. In this victory, the No3 seed hit 23 winners and 19 unforced errors along with breaking Maria’s serve five times. She also won 63% of her first serve points and 38% of her second serves. The Romanian has lost just 12 games in her first two matches in Paris and required only 24 second serves which is a sheer sign of her terrific form. Although her ankle is still heavily taped from the injury, she maintains that she’s able to move swiftly on court. Halep now has a 10-1 tally in her last 11 matches on clay which includes her Madrid Open win and the semi-finals at Rome.
Up next for Halep is the 26th seed and the Volvo Car Open Champion Daria Kasatkina.
Kasatkina, a fellow junior French Open Champion, managed to fend off the tough challenge from the “dangerous qualifier” Marketa Vondrousova in the second round. The young Russian served the match out to win a hard-fought battle in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, winning 62% of her first serves and 36% of her second serve points in the process. With this win, Kasatkina has now progressed to the third round for two consecutive years. She has four wins against top-10 players in her career and has an 8-2 in her last 10 matches on clay.
Halep and Kasatkina will be meeting for the second time in their career but for the first time on clay. The two have played in the Miami Masters 2016 where Halep emerged victorious in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.
Given all this, Halep’s first tough hurdle will be against Kasatkina, who is immensely comfortable on the dirt surface in addition to having incredible court movements and big forehand. Halep’s fitness level will surely be put to test by Daria, who hopes to make the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time but Halep has the clear advantage of experience and confidence along with a superior backhand.
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