Simona Halep came from a set down to avenge her 2020 French Open fourth round defeat to Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open on Sunday. The second seed won 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 50 minutes. This was Halep's 100th match win at a Major.
Both players began the match by taking huge cuts at each other with their forehand. While Halep remained well behind the baseline trying to absorb Swiatek’s power and redirect it back at her, the Pole’s niftiness at the net, with drop shots and volleys, kept her in the lead for the entirety of the opening set despite her serve coming under pressure on a couple of games.
The breakthrough in the set came in the eighth game, when Swiatek after fending off two break points in a mammoth nine-minute-long seventh game, broke Halep’s serve. The consolidation of the break in the following game coincided with Swiatek winning her 21st consecutive set at the Majors.
Australian Open: Simona Halep gets the better of Iga Swiatek
The momentum of the match changed completely from the second set onwards, though. Halep, who had been serving quite well, except for that one loss of serve in the previous set, kept attacking Swiatek’s serve which bore fruit right in the second game.
Halep never looked back in the set as her 19-year-old opponent struggled to recover her tempo in the match. Swiatek’s attempts to get her game back on track only added to her woes as she kept hitting error-after-error.
For the set, Swiatek committed 12 unforced errors – four times as many as Halep’s three – while hitting four winners to Halep’s five. The third set began as an extension of the second as Halep quickly went up 2-0.
However, for the next few minutes, the winds blowing at the rhythm of the match looked to be changing once again as Swiatek broke back and levelled the set at two-all. The 15th seed’s shot-making, too, had gained certitude in those moments and Halep’s game once again came under pressure as her opponent began to wrongfoot her, one point at a time.
However, this change didn’t last long as Halep secured a second break of serve in the fifth game as Swiatek tried to consolidate her break back. There were no further service breaks in the set and in the 10th game, Halep, without surrendering her game or focus, served out the match to love.
The 2018 Australian Open finalist hit 19 winners to 17 unforced errors as compared to Swiatek’s 33 winners and 42 unforced errors. The world no. 2 also won 11 points more than her younger rival – 85 to 74. In the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, Simona Halep will take on 10th seed Serena Williams.