Simona Halep needed little more than an hour to complete a straight-sets thrashing of Donna Vekic at the Canadian Open.
Halep, a two-time champion of the event, has been in resurgent form in 2022 and was in excellent form virtually from the off in Toronto.
The Romanian, seeded 15th, had break points in every one of her opponent’s service games, eventually taking a comfortable 6-0, 6-2 victory.Halep secured her first title in two years on the Melbourne hard courts at the start of 2022, and former British number one Annabel Croft believes the rest of the field in Toronto will have taken notice of a dominant performance.
“She’s certainly laid down the mantle, hasn’t she?” Croft said on Amazon Prime. “The way she is moving around the court, she is efficient and just so clinical with the ball-striking as we often see.”SHE IS A VERY RHYTHMICAL TENNIS PLAYER.
“Her movement was spectacular. The way she was moving around the court, keeping Vekic on the run, [she was able to] keep that ball out of position for Vekic to use her power from the back of the court.”
It did not take the former top-ranked player long to settle into her work, holding in relative comfort before capitalising on a succession of errors from Vekic to break in the Croatian player’s first service game.It proved the theme of the opening set, Halep breaking her error-prone opponent twice more to tie up a 1-0 report without undue fuss in just 21 minutes.Halep’s dominance continued in the second, with Vekic regularly able to force Halep on to the back foot but driving a series of reasonably simple winners errant.But the 26-year-old did at last stop the rot, saving two break points to at last get on the board with a gritty hold.It proved only temporary respite, Halep breaking to love and a 3-1 second-set lead.
Halep has re-found her returning mojo this year and appeared largely untroubled by Vekic’s usually bothersome serve throughout the contest.And a powerful return and comfortable approach down the centre sealed another, final break and a comprehensive straight sets victory in 61 minutes.
“I am really pleased with the way I played today,” Halep said afterwards.”For sure, it gives me confidence. The way I played, it is not about the result, it is more how I played. I’ve been very aggressive and I played fast.
“That’s my goal – I’m trying to do that every day.”
Halep will next face the winner of the first round match between Zhang Shuai and Cristina Bucsa.
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Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina survived a second-set fightback from Marie Bouzková to advance to the second round.Rybakina had appeared on course for victory after nudging a set ahead, but Bouzkova, who reached the last eight on the grass last month, rallied, pipping the Kazakh player in a tie-break to force a decider But Rybakina was able to reset and power away, securing the last set in comfort to seal a 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1 win.
Coco Gauff could be the 23-year-old’s next opponent in Canada – the young American faces compatriot Madison Brengle in the first round.Elsewhere in Toronto, Beatriz Haddad Maia progressed past Martina Trevisan of Italy (6-2, 2-6, 6-2).
The Brazilian, who reached the final of the Australian Open, dominated large swathes of the encounter despite struggling for fluency on her serve.
Haddad Maia was able to force 15 break points across the match in an assertive performance, breaking twice at the start of the deciding set after Trevisan had drawn level and closing out to set up a second round meeting with either Storm Sanders or Leylah Fernandez.14th seed Karolina PIiskova beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-4.An uneven opening set saw five breaks of serve fall in Pliskova’s way, and Krejcikova appeared to be headed for a swift exit when her compatriot moved 4-0 ahead in the second.
The 2021 French Open winner rallied to 5-4, but Pliskova held firm on serve to knock her fellow Czech out.