Simona Halep battled for victory over Elena Rybakina in the third round of the US Open, while last year’s finalist Victoria Azarenka was defeated by Garbine Muguruza
- Simona Halep defeated Elena Rybakina in the third round of the US Open
- She saved four set points in a remarkable tiebreak in the first set and finished strong
- It ended 7-6 (11) 4-6 6-3 while Last year’s finalist Azarenka lost to Muguruza
Simona Halep battled for victory over Elena Rybakina in the third round of the US Open, but last year’s finalist Victoria Azarenka was defeated by Garbine Muguruza.
Having two such high-level encounters so early in the tournament highlights the depth of women’s tennis, and both fit their bill.
Halep’s season has been ravaged by injuries and the Romanian plays with heavy tires on her right thigh, but she saved four set points in a remarkable first set tiebreak and finished strong for a 7-6 (11) 4-6 6-3 win .
Simona Halep (above) emerged victorious in the third round of the US Open on Friday
Halep, who had an early break in all three sets, said: “Before the game I was super stressed and I told (coach) Darren (Cahill) that my forehand was lost. So I can’t feel it anymore.
‘I had emotions. I was nervous. And I was also a little crazy about the track, the frustrations got to me a little bit. But I’ve fought, and this win gives me a lot of confidence that my game will come back and the fighting spirit is there too.
“So I feel safer on the track when I step now. I know every game is a struggle, but I’m there and when I’m healthy I feel confident that I can play my game.”
Last year’s tournament marked the return of Azarenka as a grand slam team, with the former world number one beating Serena Williams before losing to Naomi Osaka in the final.
She defeated Elena Rybakina (above) 7-6 (11) 4-6 6-3 despite playing with tires on her thigh
But as ninth seed Muguruza proved too strong here, the Spaniard triumphed 6-4 3-6 6-2 to set up another blockbuster clash against French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
Halep said with a smile, “Actually last night we looked at the schedule over dinner, and I was like, ‘Every game is a semi-final’.
“The level is super high, and now you can’t expect some players to win. I’ve stopped thinking about who will be in the semis and finals because I like discussing these things. The matches are great for everyone in my opinion.”
Krejcikova, whose rise has been so rapid that this is her New York main draw debut, was a comfortable 6-4 6-2 winner over Kamilla Rakhimova.
Another big-name encounter saw two former champions meet, with Angelique Kerber continuing her resurgent summer by beating Sloane Stephens 5-7 6-2 6-3.
A day after cheering husband Gael Monfils to a second round win, fifth seed Elina Svitolina reached the fourth round with a 6-4 6-2 win over Daria Kasatkina.
Evans – who dominated the eventual tie-break – was incredibly emotional after the final point of the match.
The 31-year-old was previously seen crouching on the pitch, holding his head in disbelief fist pumping the air with delight.
Despite his excitement at the result, Evans went to the net to comfort Popyrin – who was later seen hiding his face in his towel as his emotions began to pour out.
Meanwhile, last year’s finalist Victoria Azarenka (above) was beaten by Garbine Muguruza.
Evans has struggled with his Grand Slam form this season – he was knocked out in the first round of both the Australian Open and French Open.
He also reached the third round at Wimbledon, before being knocked out by Sebastian Korda.
Evans did win his first ATP Tour title in January, but contracted the corona virus shortly after the tournament.
Picked up the virus in In July, Evans missed the Tokyo Olympics and feared he would never regain the fitness needed to remain competitive at the top of the sport.
Therefore, the result against Popyrin meant even more for the 31-year-old. After his win, Evans said: “I’m just happy. I want to lie down.’
He explained his thinking during the match by saying: ‘At Wimbledon I was bad in the third round.
“So my focus was to put in a good performance in the third round here when I got here. I could have lost this match quite easily. I’m proud of what I’ve done here.’