There will be no rematch between Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals of the Gippsland Trophy.
Three months after the Polish teenager beat Halep in emphatic fashion - 6-1, 6-2 in the round of 16 - en route to winning her first Grand Slam title last fall, and ending the Romanian's 2020 season, the pair were projected to meet in the last eight of this week's WTA 500 event.
Russian No. 9 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova had other ideas. In just 79 minutes on Court 13, the right-hander from Chelyabinsk ousted the No.5-seeded Pole, 6-4, 6-2, to reach her second quarterfinal in the last 12 months.
Serving seven aces and breaking serve four times, Alexandrova never trailed. After she needed five set points in all to seal a one-set lead, the Russian never faced a break point in the second set.
Playing simultaneously on Margaret Court Arena, Halep wrapped up a 6-2, 6-4 win over No.16 seed Laura Siegemund on Margaret Court Arena minutes after Alexandrova's victory.
A dominant first-set showing by the Romanian gave way to a tighter second, in which she rallied from 2-0 down and saved a trio of break points that would've seen her fall behind 3-1.
Bidding for a third career victory against Halep and first in four years, the former Top 30 German utilized her entire skillset in an attempt to extend the match, but the former World No.1 had all the answers: taking the last three games, the top seed at the Gippsland event eased to victory in one hour and 33 minutes.
"I can say I'm happy. A little bit in the second set at the beginning I was with no energy, but then I stayed focused," Halep said after the match. "I knew that she's gonna change the rhythm a lot. She did that, many dropshots, but I was ready for it. I feel like I played much better than the first round."
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A full-circle opportunity awaits the two-time Grand Slam winner up next: Halep has won nine of her last 10 matches again Russian opponents, only losing to Alexandrova at the China Open in 2019.
In analysis her next match, Halep told reporters that she'll relish it as a "good challenge," while praising Alexandrova's game.
Q: What's the most Aussie thing about Simona Halep? A:
Also advancing to the quarterfinals were No.8 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, who overcame Italy's Jasmine Paolini, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, and former Top 30 player Kaia Kanepi, who backed up her second round upset of Aryna Sabalenka with a 7-5, 6-1 win against former Top 10 player Daria Kasatkina.