Australian Open: Simona Halep through to 2nd week; Pliskova, Bencic routed

Angelique Kerber also won her third-round match on Saturday

by Abbey Johnson
Australian Open: Simona Halep through to 2nd week; Pliskova, Bencic routed

2018 Australian Open finalist Simona Halep reached the second week with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. The Romanian, seeded fourth, survived the morning session bloodbath on Saturday that saw the second seed Karolina Pliskova and sixth seed Belinda Bencic exit in their round-of-32 matches.

Halep, who is trying to win her third Major at Melbourne Park, is yet to drop a set. Interspersing variety alongside her customary game, Halep kept Putintseva off-foot throughout the match. Halep had a brief hobble in the second set when she was unable to consolidate a break of serve, in the sixth game.

However, she quickly put it past and secured a second service break in the seventh game. Putintseva’s doggedness forced Halep to serve for the match and she did so while avoiding any late-surging comeback attempts from her opponent.

Both players had the same number of unforced errors – 15. But Halep had twice as many winners as Putintseva, 26 to 13. The two-time Major champion finished the match with 68 points to Putintseva’s 45. Among the other day session results, 17th seed Angelique Kerber defeated Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes.

Polish teenager Iga Swiatek also made it to the second week with an upset over 19th seed Donna Vekic 7-5, 6-3. Pliskova, Bencic Exit Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ousted Pliskova, who reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park last year, in straight sets 7-6(4), 7-6(3).

The 30th seed went for broke against the hard-hitting Czech, who was one of the pre-tournament favourites. The Russian hit 51 winners to Pliskova’s 35 and had 43 unforced errors to the World No. 2’s 29. Twenty-eighth seed Anett Kontaveit upset an out-of-sorts Bencic 6-0, 6-1 in just 49 minutes.

The Estonian did not face a single break point and broke Bencic’s serve five times in the match. She hit 21 winners and merely seven unforced errors. Bencic had 11 winners and 18 unforced errors which undid her. Photo Credit: Aus Open Twitter

Australian Open Simona Halep Angelique Kerber