2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep had to work in her second-round showdown with Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, coming back to seal a 7-5, 6-4 win to advance to the third round. Halep will face Poland's Magdalena Frech next.
Halep engineers two comebacks: The Romanian had never lost a set to Flipkens in her career, owning a 5-0 head-to-head, but her clean sheet was under threat throughout the match. With her crafty all-court game, Flipkens led Halep 5-2 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set, thanks to some jaw-dropping work at the net.
But Halep dug in to keep extend her Wimbledon winning streak to nine matches. Down 5-2, Halep ran off five straight games to seal the opening set after 37 minutes, as she amped up her baseline aggression to find a way through Flipkens' frequent net approaches.
The second set saw another Halep Houdini act, as the former No.1 flipped the script from 4-1 down to win the last five games of the match. She finished with 20 winners to 17 unforced errors, while Flipkens hit 24 winners to 21 unforced errors.
The occasion was not lost on Halep. The two shared a long embrace at the net before Halep ceded the stage to Flipkens. A junior champion in 2003 and semifinalist in 2013, Flipkens tearfully waved to the crowd before kissing the court and leaving her trademark headband behind.
Simona's tribute: "Definitely it's not about my match today, it's about her," Halep said on court. "I'm really happy I can play the last match against her. We talked in Dubai about this moment; it was pretty emotional back then, but now it's double.
"I really want to congratulate you for the whole life in tennis. We will miss you and good luck for the future. Holiday first, and then think about anything that you want. Thank you for everything."
Flipkens' final thoughts: "I mean, a lot of emotions going through my body, of course. For everything there is an end in life, and I'm about to start now a new chapter. It's a special feeling.
"Like I said, I would have dreamed for a good-bye like today. I was really close to even taking a set from a champion like Simona. It's not that I cannot play my best anymore with a champion like her or with other players. It's just you're 36 years old, you have been through so much in your career, ups and downs, and, yeah, it was just a perfect way for me to end."
"What will I miss most? Yeah, I think the interaction with the fans. Like you see, the good-bye that I had on court today, a standing ovation from a full court No. 2, with the words like Simona ending that way. I think definitely the adrenaline, like going out on court, being focused.
"There is much more that I would not miss anymore than that I will miss, but I think definitely the interaction with the fans and the adrenaline going through your body with ups and downs. Yeah, it's been a hell of a ride."
Gauff serves up a sparkling performance
Coco Gauff bounced back from a hard-fought three-set win over Elena Gabriela Ruse in the first round to ease past another Romanian, defeating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-3.
En route to the win, Gauff fired the two biggest serves of the women's tournament so far. Under the closed roof on Centre Court, the 18-year-old hit a 122 mph serve in the opening set and then a 124 mph serve in the second set. Both serves topped the previous mark of 119 mph, hit by both Petra Kvitova and Elena Rybakina. The 11th seed finished the match with 10 aces. She did not face a break point in the match.
"I wasn't nervous walking on the court," Gauff said. "This is the first time I walked on Centre Court and wasn't nervous."
Gauff will face her compatriot Amanda Anisimova in the third round. In her three appearances at Wimbledon, Gauff has yet to lose before the fourth round. Anisimova, seeded No.20 is into her first third round of The Championships after defeating Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.