2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep was made to work in her second-round showdown with Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, coming back to seal a 7-5, 6-4 win to advance to the third round. Halep will next face Poland’s Magdalena Frech.
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Halep is preparing two returns: The Romanian had never dropped a set against Flipkens in her career, owning a 5-0 one-on-one, but her clean sheet was under threat throughout the match. With his shrewd all-court play, Flipkens led Halep 5-2 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set, thanks to breathtaking work at the net.
But Halep dug in to continue extending her Wimbledon winning streak to nine matches. Down 5-2, Halep played five consecutive games to seal the first set after 37 minutes, as she increased her baseline aggression to find a way through Flipkens’ frequent net approaches.
The second set saw another act from Halep Houdini, as the former No.1 overturned the script from 4-1 to win the last five games of the game. She finished with 20 winners for 17 unforced errors, while Flipkens hit 24 winners for 21 unforced errors.
The opportunity was not lost on Halep. The two shared a long hug at the net before Halep handed the stage to Flipkens. Junior champion in 2003 and semi-finalist in 2013, Flipkens waved to the crowd in tears before embracing the court and leaving her trademark headband behind.
‘There is life outside of tennis’ – Flipkens bid farewell to Wimbledon
Simona’s tribute: “It’s definitely not about my match today, it’s about her,” Halep said on the court. “I’m really happy to be able to play the last match against her. We spoke in Dubai about this moment; it was quite emotional at the time, but now it’s double.
“I really want to congratulate you for all the life in tennis. We will miss you and good luck for the future. First the holidays, then think of whatever you want. Thank you for everything.”
Final thoughts from Flipkens: “I mean, a lot of emotions run through my body, of course. For everything, there’s an end in life, and I’m about to start a new chapter now. It’s a special feeling.
“As I said, I would have dreamed of a goodbye like today. I was even about to take a set from a champion like Simona. It’s not that I can’t play anymore my best with a champion like her or with other players.. It’s just that you’re 36, you’ve been through so much in your career, ups and downs, and, yeah, that was just a perfect way for me to end.”
“What will I miss the most? Yeah, I think the interaction with the fans. As you can see, the goodbye I got on the court today, a standing ovation from a full court No. 2, with words like Simona ending that I’m definitely thinking adrenaline, like getting out on the court, being focused.
“There’s a lot more that I would miss more than that that I will miss, but I think the interaction with the fans and the adrenaline runs through your body with ups and downs. Yeah, it’s been a hell of a ride. “
Gauff delivers a sparkling performance
Coco Gauff bounced back from a hard-fought three-set victory over Elena Gabriela Ruse in the first round to overtake another Romanian, beating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-3.
En route to victory, Gauff fired the two biggest serves of the women’s tournament so far. Under the closed roof of Center Court, the 18-year-old hit a 122mph serve in the first set and then a 124mph serve in the second set. Both serves surpassed the previous mark of 119 mph, hit by both Petra Kvitova and Elena Rybakina. The 11th seed finished the match with 10 aces. She did not face a break point in the game.
“I wasn’t nervous walking on the pitch,” Gauff said. “It’s the first time I’ve walked on center court and I wasn’t nervous.”
Gauff will face compatriot Amanda Anisimova in the third round. In her three Wimbledon appearances, Gauff has yet to lose until the fourth round. Anisimova, seeded No. 20, is in her first third round of the Championships after beating Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.