Halep demolishes Anisimova: Things we learned

 - Chris Oddo

Former champion exacts revenge on teenage American to send a message to fellow title contenders

Simona Halep, Roland Garros 2020, third round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Galloping across the red clay of Court Philippe-Chatrier and into the second week in Paris, Simona Halep has assumed her status as the Roland-Garros betting favorite with an air of ease.

On Friday she did a brilliant job of exorcising a past demon, demolishing 19-year-old American Amanda Anisimova in two blink-and-you-missed-it sets, 6-0, 6-1.

Anisimova, a surprise semi-finalist last year, was ushered out of the draw in 54 minutes before she had a chance to dial in her best tennis. Halep's triumph sets a fourth-round clash with Poland's Iga Swiatek next.

Here’s what we learned from Halep’s breathtaking victory. 

The streak continues 

Halep keeps riding the hot hand in Paris. The Romanian stretches her career-best winning streak, which dates back to her title run in Dubai in February, to 17 matches. The world No.2 has won all six three-setters she has played and also taken all four tie-breaks contested during the streak. 

Halep’s previous best winning streak happened in 2015, starting at Dubai and ending at Miami. The Romanian’s record for the season currently stands at 23-2 on the season, and she improves to 31-9 lifetime at Roland-Garros. 

Halep draws a line in the sand early

The Romanian broke Anisimova’s serve in the first game of the contest and then proceeded to save five break points to consolidate in the second game. It was an important juncture where Halep set the tone and sent the message: she was going to be there on every point, and chase down every ball. 

At 15-40, Halep made a first serve out wide and bossed the rally before unloading on a forehand winner down the line. On Anismova’s fourth break point of the game, Halep served wide again and then executed a perfectly placed drop shot before rifling a forehand winner past the American, who was left helpless at the net. 

Halep didn’t miss a single first serve on those five break points. 

“I knew it's really important to hold my serve at the beginning, because as I said, she's a very difficult opponent and she's very strong with the shots,” Halep said. “So it was really important to stay there for every ball.” 

Anisimova taking the positives

The American stormed through each of her first two rounds in under an hour and dropped just four games collectively ahead of her showdown with Halep. So what happened out there? 

It just wasn’t her day, she said. 

“It's been one of the worst matches I have played in a while,” she said. “I was just making mistakes all over the place. You know, it's a great experience and I'll definitely learn from it.” 

Anisimova, who has reached the third round at her past two majors, said she just wanted to put the defeat behind her and look forward to next season. 

“I like playing on slow surfaces,” she said. “I enjoy playing here, so I don't really know. I just really couldn't get into my own game today, and that was my biggest issue. It's really disappointing, but I'm motivated to go back and practise, and I'm looking forward to next year.”

Halep's aggression turns the table

The Romanian has had more than a year to think about what she did wrong against Anisimova last year in Paris and on Friday she came up with the perfect way to neutralise the American’s bristling baseline game: go on the attack. 

“I took the game in my hands,” Halep said when asked what she liked most about her performance. “Last year I was very far from the court, and I played fairly short so she could play her game.

"When she has time and she has the ball in the right position, she is very, very dangerous and she plays great. So today I think I did a great job changing a little bit the tactic.” 

The statistics showed Halep was able to call the shots in this contest by attacking Anisimova’s second serve. She won 17 of 21 (81 per cent) second-serve return points, which allowed her to break in all but one of the teenager's seven service games.