Rome Open: Seeds upset; injury threatens to derail Simona Halep’s French Open hopes

Seeds were ousted one after another on Wednesday at the Rome Open. The biggest upset of the day came courtesy of Jessica Pegula.

The American took down second seed Naomi Osaka in their second-round match 7-6(2), 6-2 in an hour and 27 minutes. Pegula hit 22 winners and had 21 unforced errors to Osaka’s 20 winners and 37 unforced errors. This was also Pegula’s fifth win over a player ranked inside the top-10.

After her win, Pegula spoke about her mindset while playing. She said, “I knew I was right there. I knew if I could just hang in there and play my service games smart, I could get opportunities on her serve. I did in the tiebreak especially. I thought I toughed out the first set mentally, and then the second set I started to play better.”

In the pre-quarter-finals, Pegula will face Ekaterina Alexandrova. Alexandrova moved into the third round after her second-round opponent, 13th seed Jennifer Brady withdrew ahead of their match with an injury to her left foot.

Former world no. 2 Vera Zvonareva upset 11th seed Petra Kvitova. The Russian qualifier needed two hours and 23 minutes to post a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over the Czech. This win also meant that Zvonareva will re-enter the top-100 when the rankings are updated next week. Meanwhile, in the third round, the two-time Major finalist will play another Czech, the ninth-seeded Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.

Rome Open: Injury hampers Simona Halep

Last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist, Nadia Podoroska ousted eighth seed Serena Williams in the second round. Williams was playing her first match of the clay season and the 1000th match of her career. The one-hour-58-minute encounter was tightly fought but the Argentine advanced 7-6(3), 7-5. For a place in the quarter-finals, Podoroska will now take on Petra Martic. The Croatian ousted Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-3 in their second-round clash.

Barbora Krejcikova upset fourth seed Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-4 in their round-of-32 match. The Czech will play 15th seed Iga Swiatek. The Pole ousted Madison Keys 7-5, 6-1.

Coco Gauff will play seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the last-eight. Gauff upset 17th seed Maria Sakkari 6-1, 1-6, 6-1. Sabalenka, meanwhile, carried over her winning form from the Mutua Madrid Open and posted a 7-5, 6-1 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Simona Halep was forced to retire in the second set of her second-round match against Angelique Kerber. The world no. 3 was leading 6-1, 3-all when an injury to her calf made her call time on the match. Post-match, in a statement, Halep said that she had torn the calf muscle on her left leg.

“Unfortunately, an ultrasound has revealed that I have a tear in my left calf. I will get an MRI tomorrow to understand the injury in more detail, but at the moment we are unsure of recovery time. I’m so disappointed to end my tournament in Rome like this, but I will do everything I can to take care of the injury and be back as soon as possible. Thanks so much for your support and I’ll keep you posted on my progress,” Halep said.

Seeded players to reach the round-of-16 at the Rome Open were top-seed Ashleigh Barty, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and 12th seed Garbine Muguruza. Barty will play Veronika Kudermetova in the pre-quarters while Svitolina and Muguruza will clash for a place in the quarter-finals.

Photo Credit: Simona Halep Twitter

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