Nineteen-year-old Romanian Simona Halep scored her first top-10 win Tuesday, simultaneously pulling a surprising upset by knocking out Roland Garros champion and No. 6 seed Li Na, 6-2, 7-5, only one day after another Romanian player, Alexandra Dulgheru over passed the Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Halep is gradually improving and staying consistent with her 2011 Grand Slam results, as she has made a second-round appearance or better at each of the majors this year. A slew of unforced errors crippled Li’s game, as she committed 54 compared to Halep’s much cleaner 19.
Even playing with a hurt ankle, which she injured inToronto before defeating another former Roland Garros champ, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Halep entered her first-round contest with a lot of confidence.
“It’s not easy to play against one Grand Slam champ because it’s very top level,” Halep said according to usopen.org. “I was nervous before the match. But I wanted just to enjoy the match and to play my best. And it was good.”
The Grand Slam champion has struggled lately on hard courts, and she admitted she was frustrated with the early exit.
“It’s a terrible feeling,” Li said. “I mean, two years in a row (I lost) first round here, and first round at Indian Wells and Miami. Normally I like hard court a lot. But I think these two years I’m just doing (badly).”
Perhaps it was Li’s struggles on the asphalt lately that had an effect on her mentality coming into the US Open.
“I really want to do well after Roland Garros,” she said. “But, you know, I mean, it’s not easy to do. Always easy to say, I want to do, I would like to do, but then always lose early. Now I even lose all the confidence on the court.” Halep will next face the winner between Carla Suarez Navarro and Mathilde Johansson.