Wimbledon 2019: Simona Halep cruises past Victoria Azarenka in straight sets
The victory ensured the Romanian advanced into the second week of the competition for the fourth time in her career.
Azarenka got off to the brighter start, holding serve comfortably and then earning a couple of break chances. However, Halep held on, leveling the scoreboard. The Belarusian produced the perfect reply, holding to love and opening a 2-1 lead.
Azarenka then drew errors from Halep's racquet to break serve and take a 3-1 lead. However, the Romanian hit back immediately with a break of her own. Azarenka had break points in the sixth game but the Romanian saved them all to draw level.
Halep began to turn the tide in her favor and secured her first lead in the match, breaking Azarenka again. She then registered a confident hold to love to take control of the set. Azarenka was forced to serve to stay in the set but received a code violation for racquet abuse as she bounced her racquet off the grass while down 0-30.
She tried to regroup but an unforced error gave Halep set point. Another forehand error from Azarenka - her 20th of the set - handed Halep the first set in 34 minutes.
The Romanian started the second set strongly, registering another hold to love. By this time, Azarenka had begun leaking errors and it was evident that she was struggling to keep pace with the Romanian. She managed to hold serve after saving break point and then produced a couple of chances on the Halep serve.
However, she squandered both and was then broken in her very next service game to go down 3-1 in the set.
That was the opening that Halep needed and she raced away to a 4-1 lead. Another comfortable break gave Halep the opportunity to serve for the match. The Romanian quickly secured three match points. A great return from Azarenka wiped away one of them, but the Belarusian netted her next shot to hand Halep the victory in one hour and six minutes.
The 7th seed will face the winner of the match between Polona Hercog and rising American star Cori Gauff on Monday.