Sports Desk, Jan 22 (EFE).- Simona Halep on Saturday took a step further in her quest for her maiden Australian Open title by easing past Danka Kovinic, while second-seed Aryna Sabalenka had to pull off yet another comeback in the third round.
The former world No.1 needed just 64 minutes to earn a dominating 6-2, 6-1 win over the Montenegrin player to continue her strong comeback from a knee injury she sustained in November.
Having won the Australian Open warm-up Melbourne Summer Set, the Romanian dropped only 12 games on her way to the fourth round of the first Grand Slam event of the year.
“I feel great physically, first of all,” the two-time Grand Slam champion said afterwards. “Mentally I’m confident and also strong, I would say. Feeling the game. Feeling joy out there.”
“I think that helps me to be positive and to be confident that I have a chance every time I step on the court,” the 2018 finalist added.
The 30-year-old dropped her serve once, but broke her opponent’s three times, dealing the final blow in the seventh game before sealing the first set in the following game.
The 14th-seed earned another three service breaks in the second set and hold her own delivery throughout to set a fourth-round clash against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
The birthday girl had to rally back from a set deficit and two breaks down in the second set to defeat Tamara Zidansek 4-6 6-4 6-2.
“I just kept going, I was just fighting, I put all the resilience I could put in this match, and finally I came back,” Cornet, 32, said.
The Frenchwoman was not the only one to pull off a comeback as Sabalenka also earned yet another Houdini win over Marketa Voundrousova.
As happened in her previous two matches, the Belarusian dropped the first set and had to dig deep for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over the Czech player to equal her best Australian Open run.
“Feels like I’m warming up in the first set and then I start playing,” Sabalenka said afterwards
. “I don’t know. I really want to win it in two sets, and I think that’s why I’m getting, like, so emotional in the first set, and that’s why I’m like over-trying and I’m missing a lot,” she added.
Next up for Sabalenka, who has yet to reach a Grand Slam final, is Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who had a comeback of her own for a 2-6 6-2 6-0 win over Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis.
Seventh seed Iga Świątek defeated Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-3 to set a fourth-round clash against either Sorana Cirstea or 10th seed Anastasía Pavlyuchenkova. EFE