Double grand Slam winner Simona Halep waited a year before earning revenge on Elise Mertens as she defeated the Belgian 6-4, 6-4 on Monday to start the second week of the Australian Open.
Halep, seeded fourth, reached her fourth quarter-final here to improve her record in the series to 3-1; she lost last January to Mertens in Doha.
“I had it in my head that she came back in that (2019) match; I had to pay attention on every ball, not giving up at all, because she can come back strong,” Halep said.
“I feel like I played a better match than all the matches since I’ve been here.
“I’m happy about that, and I’m trying just to stay focused.”
The Romanian winner, coached by Australian Darren Cahill, said she had to play through nerves as she moves closer to a possible Grand Slam trophy hat-trick.
“I had to calm myself down because when I get a little bit nervous I get crazy on court,” the 28-year-old who has not lost a set so far, said.
“So I had to stay cool, to get energy from the (player) box and play without looking back.”
Victory assured the former No. 1 of a return to the second ranking behind Australian Ash Barty.
Her next opponent will be Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who had to hang on as teenaged Pole Iga Swiatek made a roaring comeback in their third set from 1-5 down to level at 5-all.
But Kontaveit secured her best shoeing in a Grand Slam with a late break to produce a 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5 result into the last eight.
After just over two and a half hours, Swiatek drove a backhand wide down the line to go out in the battle of Baltic neighbors as she fell to a comeback from her more experienced opponent.
Swiatek, 18 and ranked 56th, was playing in only the fifth Grand Slam of her career’ she was the fourth Polish woman through to the fourth round in Melbourne since Aga Radwanska in 2016.
Kontaveit did not play last season after the US Open due to illness; she is the first Estonian quarter-finalist in Melbourne.
“It was such a battle today but so happy that I toughed it out,” she said.
“I’m so happy to be in the quarter-finals for the first time. I think I’m still shaking.”
Former Wimbledon and French Open winner Garbine Muguruza continued her surge of form, defeating Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3 with a forehand winner on second match point.
Muguruza, who beat fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina in her previous match, completed back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents for the first time since winning the 2017 Cincinnati title.
” I feel good, I’m super concentrated on every single match, especially because I started the tournament so-so.” Muguruza, a former No. 1 and Wimbledon and Paris champion. said
“I feel like my body’s getting healthier. It’s a Grand Slam, we are all very concentrated here.
“This is one of the tournaments that motivates me the most.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat 2016 winner Angelique Kerber 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-2 to nudge ahead in their long-running career series 8-7 and next tackle Muguruza.