Halep 'feeling old' but still deadly

The reigning champion only needed 45 minutes to breeze past teenager Swiatek.

Simona Halep Roland Garros 2019©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Defending champion Simona Halep hailed a “perfect” performance after dismissing breakout star Iga Swiatek 6-1, 6-0 to cruise into the Roland-Garros quarter-finals.

An 11th straight victory in Paris was emphatically completed in 45 minutes, booking a test against another teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova.

“I feel old, very old,” joked Halep ahead of facing the fearless 17-year-old American. “I was not on Chatrier at 17, I was in qualifiers here. To play against someone 10 years younger than me, that's not easy. They're young, they have nothing to lose, so every match is tough.

“I think our generation, it was a little bit more shy. Now, this generation has more courage, they fight with any other player in the top. So they don't have thoughts about that they are under them. So I appreciate them, it's good for tennis, because they see that the young players are in the top fast. But also, I take my advantage, and I say that I'm experienced. So we will see."

Prior to the Court Philippe-Chatrier clash Swiatek, who still attends school, told reporters it was a “dream” to duel with Halep. The Polish teenager surged into the second week on debut at Roland-Garros with victories over the likes of No.16 seed Qiang Wang and Olympic champion Monica Puig.

However, the reigning champion was a totally different proposition.


Halep’s coach since March Daniel Dobre told Rolandgarros.com that he wants her to play “freely” and to really “show off her talent.” 

Well, Dobre got his wish on Monday afternoon as Halep looked intent on proving a point from the get go.

The world No.3 launched into a mid-flight backhand winner down-the-line to spark an immediate break.

Swiatek, the current Wimbledon junior champion, was struggling to contain the precision and force of the ruthless Romanian.

Within 14 minutes it was 5-0 on the scoreboard, but Swiatek lasered a backhand down-the-line and scooped a sumptuous lob over Halep to eventually post a game next to her name.

The ex-world No.1 wasn’t about to let go of her grip and rattled through seven successive games to cap a devastating display.

“I consider this the best match here, I played really well, and maybe she was a little bit nervous playing on that court," said the Constanta native.

“I expected a very tough one, because my coach told me that she's hitting very unpredictable, it's tough to understand how she's playing. So I was ready for that, but it was much better than I thought,” continued Halep, who feels in the groove after surviving the early trials and tribulations of the first week of the Grand Slam gauntlet.

"I have a good feeling, and am not stressing too much on court.  I feel that the first two, three matches are tougher in a Grand Slam. If you're in the second week, your expectations are bigger. I expect more from myself. So, I'm thinking just to give my best again next round. Everything else is a bonus."

The third seed sympathised with Swiatek due to the scoreline, but offered plenty of encouragement for the Polish prodigy.

“I think she has to take the confidence and also to believe more that she has a chance to be in the top. She beat good players. she needs many matches on those courts. She needs time,” assured Halep. “But for sure she will be high because at 18, she played fourth round of a Grand Slam. I'm sure that she's gonna go high, like, only up now.”