Wimbledon 2022: Halep ousts Frech, Anisimova wins battles of Americans to advance

The 2019 winner Simona Halep stormed into the Round of 16 of Wimbledon, beating Poland’s Magdalena Frech in a fourth-round clash here on Saturday.

The No. 16 seed from Romania eased past Frech 6-4, 6-1 on No. 2 Court as she continued her run for the title, making up for the chance to defend the title she missed in 2020 because that year’s edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

No. 20 seed Amanda Anisimov rallied past compatriot Coco Gauff in a clash of Americans at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1 win in 2 hours, 7 minutes at Centre Court here.

Halep, a former World No 1 who defeated Serena Williams in 2019 final for her second Grand Slam title. But her rival was not affected by her reputation.

Frech had already posted a career-best major result in just her sixth Grand Slam main-draw appearance and first Wimbledon main draw. The 24-year-old Polish player defeated No. 21 seed Camila Giorgi and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova to reach a Grand Slam third round for the first time.

But Halep would not be denied her fifth trip into the second week of Wimbledon, in her 10th main-draw showing at SW19. Halep now holds a 3-0 head-to-head lead in her rivalry with Frech, and she has knocked the Pole out of two majors this season, including the 2022 Australian Open.

Halep dictated play on Saturday, with 24 winners to just five from the racquet of Frech. The 30-year-old Halep converted six of her 10 break points to improve her Wimbledon win-loss record to 27-8. Frech fell to 0-9 against Top 20 opposition over her career with the loss. Frech did break Halep on two out of her three chances, but the unseeded player only won seven of her 20 second-service points in the match.

Halep took an early 4-0 lead and served for the first set at 5-2, but a double fault on break point allowed Frech to claw one break back and tighten up the opener. However, on the second time of asking, Halep served out the set at love, stopping the Frech comeback.

After an exchange of breaks in the first two games of the second set, Halep gritted out another tough break for a 2-1 lead, ending the game with a backhand winner after a gruelling rally on her third break point. Halep took charge from that moment on, reeling off the last five games.

Anisimova, the 20-year-old No. 20 seed rallied from a set down to defeat compatriot Gauff, seeded No. 11, to reach the fourth round at the Championships for the first time.

“It’s my first time playing on Centre Court. It’s the most special day, I think, of my career,” Anisimova said in her on-court interview.

“It’s just a huge privilege to play on this court… playing Coco. She’s an amazing player and just got to the finals of a Grand Slam. Before the match, I was just trying to prepare myself to soak in this moment whether I win or lose. Winning today is just so special,” she was quoted as saying in a report by the WTA Tour.

“I think the worst thing for a tennis player is to lose 7-6 in the first set … It’s really important to just bounce back and give everything I have. It was very easy to do, especially on this court, even though it was extremely exhausting.”

Both players led by a break in the first set; Gauff started the stronger of the two and led 3-0 before Anisimova won four games in a row. After more than an hour of play, the set went Gauff’s way in a tiebreak; from 4-1 down, Gauff won the last six points.

Anisimova rebounded emphatically; she broke Gauff’s serve three times in the second set and twice in the third to complete the comeback. Though the nerves were apparent in the biggest match between the peers so far, Anisimova found a winning strategy and stuck to it; she broke down Gauff’s forehand and finished when the opportunity arose. Though she hit twice as many unforced errors as Gauff did, she also hit 10 more winners.

Anisimova will next face France’s Harmony Tan, whose career-defining tournament continued with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Great Britain’s Katie Boulter in Round 3. The pair have played at a Grand Slam before; in her semifinal run at Roland Garros three years ago, Anisimova was a 6-3, 6-1 victor over Tan in the first round.

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