/ Tennis

Simona Halep progresses to third round at French Open

Updated: Thursday, 29 May 2014 22:31 | Comments

Simona Halep won the girls' singles title at Roland Garros in 2008
Simona Halep won the girls' singles title at Roland Garros in 2008

The jostling began in the bottom half of the women's draw on Thursday with a place in the French Open final very much up for grabs.

Although it is the exit of Serena Williams that made the biggest headlines, with Maria Sharapova still in the top half of the draw, there is a clear favourite.

Without Australian Open champion Li Na in the bottom half, things are much more open.

The highest seed left is Romanian Simona Halep, whose remarkable rise up the rankings made her fourth seed for the tournament.

Last year she was ranked outside the top 50 but seven titles since have turned her into a real contender for the biggest prizes.

Halep, though, has only reached one grand slam quarter-final, at the Australian Open in January, so a semi-final or final would be breaking new ground.

The 22-year-old looked in good shape against Britain's Heather Watson in round two, winning 6-2 6-4 to set up a clash with Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.

The direct beneficiary of Li's first-round loss could be 28th seed Andrea Petkovic, a 6-2 4-6 6-2 winner over Stefanie Voegele on Thursday.

The German is the only seed left in her quarter and next meets Li's conqueror Kristina Mladenovic, who backed up her big victory by defeating American Alison Riske in three sets.

There are five players left in the bottom half who have made a grand slam final - Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic - with the latter three having won titles.

Kuznetsova and Ivanovic have both won the French Open, and the latter is having her best season since her Roland Garros triumph in 2008 and must be a strong contender.

Ivanovic, who overcame a tricky hurdle in teenager Elina Svitolina, next plays Lucie Safarova while Kuznetsova, always a big danger on clay, takes on Kvitova.

Another player who will have her eye on the latter stages will be American Sloane Stephens, who reserves her best form for the grand slams.

The 15th seed has never made a final on the WTA Tour yet has reached at least the fourth round at her last five grand slams, including a semi-final at the Australian Open last year.

Stephens again looks to be hitting form at the right time, beating Polona Hercog 6-1 6-3 on Thursday.

Sharapova is in third-round action on Friday against Argentina's Paula Ormaechea while third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the highest seed left in the tournament, opens proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier against Ajla Tomljanovic.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use