MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Simona Halep continued her rampaging start to the season with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of Montenegrin trailblazer Danka Kovinic to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 14th seeded Romanian fired up on a baking hot day at John Cain Arena to completely overpower Kovinic, who had dumped U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu out in her previous match, becoming her nation’s first player to reach the third round of a Grand Slam singles tournament.
After missing Wimbledon and the French Open in an injury-plagued 2021, Halep is now back to peak fitness and has notched eight straight wins, including a warm-up title in Melbourne.
“Well, I feel great that I can play the fourth round again,” said Halep, who was beaten by Serena Williams in the quarter-finals last year.
“In front of this crowd is always a pleasure, so thank you everybody for staying in this heat because it’s super hot today.”
Twice Grand Slam champion Halep, who reached the 2018 final at Melbourne Park, will play France’s Alize Cornet for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I feel like I played great, (Kovinic) was a little bit tired, she had a tough match before me,” added Halep.
“I feel good, more confident now because last year was a tough year and now I just enjoy playing tennis because I’m healthy.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)