World No.1 Simona Halep won her first match since winning her maiden major title at Roland Garros, dismissing Kurumi Nara in straight sets on Centre Court.
David Kane
July 3, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - Top seed Simona Halep hurried through her first match as a Grand Slam champion, striking 19 winners to knock out Japan's Kurumi Nara, 6-2, 6-4 on Centre Court at Wimbledon - extending her winning streak to eight in a row at major tournaments.

"I had the nerves," Halep confessed in post-match press. "I was actually a little bit worried because I didn't have a match on grass court. But still I was thinking that I played many matches on clay court season. So I was kind of ready.

"But still the nerves were there. I hope they always will be there."

Halep last appeared on court at Roland Garros, where she lifted her maiden major title after a thrilling three-set win over Sloane Stephens. The confidence of that long-awaited victory was on display against Nara on Tuesday, serving out her spot in the second round after only an hour and 18 minutes.

The Romanian last played Nara in 2014 at the BNP Paribas Open, and was in similar form as she raced out to an early break advantage to start. Though Nara pegged the World No.1 back level, Halep won a titanic fifth game that featured five break points and rode that momentum through the second set.

"I think I played okay. I played a good match. It was the first round of the tournament, which is the toughest normally.

"I knew how she's playing because I watched a little bit. I remember that I played against her few years ago. So it was a good start, in my opinion. I had nothing to adjust. Everything was smooth.

One break was all Halep needed from there, drawing proverbial blood in the opening game and holding on from there. A former World No.32, Nara did all she could to keep things close, saving a pair of break points in the fifth game to stay within one break, but managed just eight winners throughout, leaving Halep undaunted as she held serve to 15, booking a second round clash with Zheng Saisai.

"I don't really know now in this moment because I didn't look the draw against who I played in the second round. It was really tough to get ready for the first one. So now I will have day off and tomorrow before the practice I will think about the next opponent.

"But for sure it's going to be fast. On this court, you never know what is going to happen. I have just to be ready on my legs, to be strong."

Halep and Zheng last played at the 2015 Shenzhen Open, where the eventual champion won in straight sets in the semifinals.