Simona Halep Pulls Through a Tough Battle Against Elena Rybakina at US Open 2021

Published 09/03/2021, 1:37 PM EDT
Aug 17, 2021; Mason, OH, USA; Simona Halep (ROU) reacts against Magda Linette (POL) during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


As the third round matches at the US Open 2021 got underway, the returning Simona Halep took to court on Friday. She kicked off the morning session on the Louis Armstrong stadium, looking to seal her spot in Round-4. Her opponent on the day was Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina. Shaking off all the possible rust, Halep secured a sensational victory.

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Monumental effort from Simona Halep in Set-1

Aug 17, 2021; Mason, OH, USA; Simona Halep (ROU) returns a shot against Magda Linette (POL) during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It was a slow start from the Romanian, who went down an early break at 0-2. Rybakina was serving very well, constantly finding the corners on her first serve. She was proving to be a menace for the 12th seed, going up 3-1. In the sixth game, Simona Halep strung together a brilliant return game, characterized by some uncanny first serve misses from Rybakina. As the rest of the set progressed, Halep continued to play the catch-up game, before eventually dragging the set to a tiebreaker.

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In the tiebreak that followed, it was an absolute battle between the duo. Neither player was willing to give in, fighting point for point. There was no clear winner in the race-to-seven, meaning that additional points were required to secure the set. After multiple set points went begging, Halep finally took the first set off a double fault by 7-6 (11).

Rybakina claws her way back, but in vain

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Quarterfinal – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 28, 2021. Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan reacts during her quarterfinal match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain REUTERS/Edgar Su

The second set started off in similar fashion to the first, with the 19th seed racing to a lead. However, Halep was back in the game again, courtesy of some crucial double faults from the Kazakh. The rallies were short and crisp, but Rybakina began controlling the play more often. After a bumpy couple of games, she found some rhythm again to break Halep. With her aces comfortably crossing the double digit mark, she powered her way through the former World No.1 to take the set 6-4.

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With the match being interrupted numerous times due to some minor injuries for both players, the clock ticked past the 2 hour mark. Nonetheless, it was the player from Kazakhstan who took the bull by the horns yet again, breaking Simona in the very first game.

The 2-time Slam winner didn’t have the natural weapon like her opponent, and was quite tired. She extended the rallies from well behind the baseline, as the long rallies always favor her. Accompanied by another drop in the service level of Rybakina, Simona Halep never looked back after the first game. She destroyed her opponent for a pleasing 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory.

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The dream return for Simona Halep thus continues at the US Open 2021. Next up for the former Wimbledon champion, is a mouth-watering fourth round tussle against either Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina or Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

235 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is a tennis and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football, and table tennis. Apart from his professional desires, Sankalp does voluntary service with his friends to feed hungry animals on a regular basis.

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