A trio of Roland Garros champions reached the fourth round of the US Open on Friday as current Paris holder Barboara Krejcikova, and past champions Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza all advanced.
Krejcikova, who lifted the clay title in June, showed her form on hardcourt in a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of 134th-ranked Russian Kamilla Rakhimova, a 20-year-old playing her second career Grand Slam main draw.
Halep, seeded 12th, needed almost two and a half hours to see off big-hitting Kazakh Elena Rybakina 7-6(11), 4-6, 6-3.
Halep, playing only her second event back after a summer-long calf injury withstood 14 aces from her opponent but managed to produce only one herself.
“I’m really happy that I could stay stronger mentally in the third set,” 2016 semi-finalist Halep said. “It was a great victory and a great day for me, for my confidence, and also for my game.
“It’s nice to be back in the second week of the US Open after five years.”
Halep saved four set points in the opener and needed seven chances to finally lift the first set after 65 minutes.
Rybakina levelled by winning the second but was unable to halt the Halep momentum in the third.
“I had in my mind that I don’t have to wait for her mistakes – I just have to get to go there and to take the point,” Halep said,..
“I know from years of experience that sometimes you have to be brave even if you are down a set point or a match point.”
Halep will now tangle with Elina Svitolina after the fifth seed defeated Daria Kasatkina for the sixth time without a loss, winning 6-4, 6-2 and advancing without losing serve.
“It was a very solid performance mentally and physically,” the Ukrainian said. “I was very composed.
“It was a great overall three matches that I had so far, it’s nice to get some wins here.”
Halep’s win in nearly two and a half hours duplicated her victory in last year’s Dubai final.
The seed ended with 24 winners to the 34 of her opponent though Rybakina committed more than 50 unforced errors on the way to defeat.
“I knew before that it was going to be very difficult ,” Halep said. “Elena puts pressure on the opponent. I had to be strong.”
Muguruza won a battle of Grand Slam holders as she put out double Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in two and a quarter hours with six breaks of the Belarus player’s serve.
The Spaniard set a personal best at the event, her weakest Grand Slam where she had only once reached the second week.
“I’m happy, it’s actually my first Arthur Ashe court win after almost 10 years. It’s kind of funny,” she said.
Muguruza now has a chance for revenge for a loss in August to Krecikova in Cincinnati.
“We’ve played twice. I know her game. She has way more confidence now after winning a Slam. I can feel it in her shots.
“It was a very tough match in Cincinnati. She’s”one of the hottest players right now, those are the players I want to face.”
2016 winner Angelique Kerber defeated 2017 titleholder Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, clocking her 19th win in her last 19 matches.
Victory ended a five-match loss streak in the series for Germany’s three-time Grand Slam champion, who last beat her American rival nine years ago at Indian Wells.
Main photo:- Simona Halep reacts to winning a Women’s Singles match by Adam Glanzman/USTA)