2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep had to work her way through her second-round clash with Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, coming back to seal a 7-5, 6-4 win to advance to the third round. Halep will face Poland’s Magdalena Frech next.
Wimbledon Day 4 Results: Swiatek tested | Boulter stuns Pliskova | Kvitova will face Badosa
Halep designs two comebacks: The Romanian had never lost a set to Flipkens in her career, going 5-0 head-to-head, but her clean sheet was under threat throughout the match. With his astute play all over the court, Flipkens led Halep 5-2 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set, thanks to some amazing work at the net.
But Halep struggled to continue to extend her Wimbledon winning streak to nine matches. Down 5-2, Halep rallied five games in a row to seal the first set after 37 minutes, as he ratcheted up his aggression from the baseline to find a way around Flipkens’ frequent net approaches.
The second set saw another act from Halep Houdini, as the former World No.1 flipped the script from 4-1 to win the final five games of the match. He finished with 20 winners on 17 unforced errors, while Flipkens posted 24 winners on 21 unforced errors.
The occasion did not go unnoticed by Halep. The two shared a long hug at the net before Halep gave the stage to Flipkens. A junior champion in 2003 and a semifinalist in 2013, Flipkens waved tearfully to the crowd before kissing the court and leaving her trademark behind.
‘There is life besides tennis’ – Flipkens says goodbye at Wimbledon
Simon’s Tribute: “It’s definitely not about my match today, it’s about her,” Halep said on court. “I’m very happy to be able to play the last match against her. We talked in Dubai about this moment, it was quite emotional at the time, but now it’s twice as emotional.”
“I really want to congratulate you on your whole life in tennis. We will miss you and good luck for the future. Vacation first and then think about what 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 is an end to life, and now I’m about to start a new chapter. It’s a special feeling.”
“As I said, I would have dreamed of a farewell like today. I was very close to taking a set from a champion like Simona. It’s not that I can’t play my best with a champion like her anymore or with other players. It’s just that you have 36 years old, you’ve been through a lot in your career, ups and downs and, yeah, it was a perfect way to end it for me.”
“What am I going to miss more? Yeah, I think the interaction with the fans. You see, the send-off I had on the court today, a full-court standing ovation No. 2, with words like Simona at the end. I think that definitely the adrenaline, like going out on the field, being focused.
“There’s a lot more that I wouldn’t miss more than I will, but I definitely think the interaction with the fans and the adrenaline rushing through your body with ups and downs. Yeah, it’s been a great ride.”
Gauff delivers a brilliant performance
Coco Gauff bounced back from a hard-fought three-set win over Elena Gabriela Ruse in the first round to easily outclass another Romanian, defeating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-3.
En route to victory, Gauff fired the two biggest serves in the women’s tournament thus 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 topped the previous mark of 119 mph, set 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 match.
“I wasn’t nervous walking the court,” Gauff said. “This is the first time I stepped onto 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 before the fourth round. The 20th-seeded Anisimova is through to her first third-round match at The Championships after defeating Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.