TORONTO, Canada - Defending champion Simona Halep is back into the Rogers Cup quarterfinals for the fifth time after dropping just three games against Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-2, 6-1.
After yesterday’s two-hour and 30-minute marathon against Jennifer Brady in her first singles match back in action since the Wimbledon, No.4 seed Halep needed just two sets and 67 minutes to advance on Thursday.
“I really believe that I played much better than yesterday, even if the opponent was different,” Halep reflected in her post-match press conference. “Svetlana is playing with a lot of topspin. Brady was hitting very strong. Different players, different opponents.
“I feel like I had a good touch of the ball, and I'm really pleased with the way I played against her, because it's always tough and always we have tough matches.”
The Rogers Cup seems to be one of Halep’s happiest hunting grounds, with plenty of success coming at both of the tournament’s Canadian venues: she lifted two trophies in a row in Montreal, triumphing in 2016 and 2018, and in Toronto she’s posted a run to the final in 2015 and the semifinals in 2017.
Meanwhile, her opponent Kuznetsova came into the tournament looking for matches as she works her way back into regular WTA action after a knee injury derailed her start to the season. The former French Open champion made good on her wildcard, taking down qualifier Wang Xiyu and Donna Vekic on her way to the third round.
“We had many, many matches and tough ones,” Halep said of the Russian player. “It's amazing that she's still playing. And after a tough injury that she had, she comes back and playing at this level.
“But she's a champion. She won two Grand Slams and many tournaments. I admire her for what she does. And I hope she keeps playing because she's very nice and doing it her own too.”
But in the pair’s eighth career meeting, Halep got off to a flying start with an early break giving her a 3-0 lead, although Kuznetsova made her earn it by saving break point three times and pushing the No.4 seed to deuce five times before surrendering the game.
Halep and Kuznetsova pair stayed toe-to-toe across the next four games that followed, but the Russian found herself unable to pressure the Halep serve as the defending champion broke once more to take the set, 6-2.
Halep continued her romp in the second set, saving the only pair of break points she faced to hold in the first game, breaking to lead 2-0. She reeled off the next three games in a row to extend her lead to 5-0 before Kuznetsova got her name on the scoreboard. But in the end, it wasn’t enough to inspire a comeback as Halep closed the door a game later, 6-1, to book her spot in the quarterfinals.
Up next, Halep awaits the winner between qualifier Marie Bouzkova and former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
“The only one challenge that I have is to win the next match. Doesn't matter against who I play,” Halep said. “The fact that I'm back in quarterfinals here means a lot to me. It feels like I'm getting back the rhythm which I had in Wimbledon, let's say.
“I was a little bit worried with the holiday that I have that is going to be a little bit tough, but it's normal to take a break sometimes.
“I'm happy to be in this position. And both of them are difficult, so I'm not going to think about that. I just want to go there and to try to play better than today.”