Two-time Slam winners Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza both cruised into the quarterfinals Monday at the Australian Open.
Halep, who made the finals in 2018, ousted former semifinalist Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-4 to book her return to the final eight.
“It’s a great performance by me to play the quarterfinals again, it’s really nice to enjoy tennis here in Australia. I’m really happy to go through,” said Halep.
“Against her last year in Doha, I was leading by a set and 4-2 and I lost the match. I had in my head she came back in that match, and I have just to pay attention on every ball, not giving up at all, because she can come back strong.”
Halep now takes on Estonian No. 1 Anett Kontaviet who came from a set and a break down to beat 18-year-old Iga Swiatek 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5. From 4-3 down in the second set, Kontaveit ran off 9 of 11 games to lead 5-1. But the teen clawed back to level until she was broken for the match putting Kontaveit into her first Slam quarterfinal.
“I was just trying to keep going and fighting as much as I could,” Kontaveit said. “You know, there was a lot on the line, so I was just trying to do my best out there.
“It was a really, really tough match. Iga is a really good player. She was really tough and she was playing great tennis.”
After a poor 18 months, Garbine Muguruza seems to have found her form. The former French and Wimbledon champion reunited with old coach Conchita Martinez and it’s already paying dividends. Muguruza earned her second straight Top 10 win getting through Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.
“I feel good in this tournament,” said Muguruza. “I’m super concentrated on every single match, especially because I started the tournament so-so. I feel like my body’s getting healthier.
“It’s a Grand Slam, we are all very concentrated here. For me, it’s one of the tournaments that motivates me the most.”
She’ll now meet Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who upset the last former champion left, Angelique Kerber, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-2.
Kerber’s exit confirms a new Australian Open women’s champion.
Tomorrow, the quarterfinals begin with Sofia Kenin and Ons Jabeur playing their first Slam last eight. But the big match is between No. 1 Ash Barty and 2019 runner-up Petra Kvitova. The Czech upended Barty in the quarters last year, so Barty will be out for revenge.
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