World No. 2 and 2-hour defender Rome finalist Simona Halep does not lift the trophy in the Italian capital in 2019 and loses in the second round to the young Czech Marketa Vondrousova 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes.
Halep was the finalist in Madrid last week, and she had to cool down the last few days and work hard on the pitch and hopes to start the event at 100%. It could have happened, but Vondrousova proved too strong today and beat the Romanian for the second time this year after Indian Wells, where she also won three sets.
The 19-year-old has now won 18 of the last 22 matches and will quickly find herself in the top-30 if she continues to play such. Simona earned 73%, but just as many times this season, which doesn't bring her much, 40% of the points lost in her game and played against 13 breaks.
Marketa grabbed just four of them, and it forced her to dig deep for the victory, take 96 points like Simona and stave off three out of seven bridges given to the Romanian. Also the Czech played with more variety and beat 14 drop shot winners (!!) and moved Halep across the pitch with well-placed battles that had both angels and spins.
Simona saved two break points in the second game of the game and sat down in a good rhythm afterwards, knocking out five straight games for a 6-2 in just over 30 minutes. They traded four consecutive pauses at the beginning of the second set, and Marketa delivered another in match 12 to steal the set 7-5 and get a massive boost in front of the decider where she had the moment now.
Nothing could have separated them in the first six games, and Marketa averted a break point of 3-3 with a forced error from Halep, where he destroyed the Romanian in the next game when Simona netted a backhand to earn the victory.
Hold on 15 powered Marketa in the third round, celebrating one of her biggest wins in a career. "Well, it's been a little difficult because we had to be late here yesterday, but it was the same for all of us, I can't complain about it.
I just couldn't win today, but I have extra days off, which is good. I will enjoy the rest now and try to be ready for French open. Of course, I would not lose today. I began to feel a little pain in the leg in the second set after sliding.
Yesterday I didn't do much. I had two days off, so it was a little hard to get back to this very high rhythm. The damage will be ok in a few days, I'm sure. It is very difficult to handle Marketas drop shots, she had many of them today.
I think she is very talented, an excellent player. She's going to be at the top of the game in my opinion. She is a left-handed man with good service, slice and movement, it's always hard to play against her. I can't expect anything in Paris because being a defense master at Grand Slam is something new for me for the first time.
I want to be more relaxed than a year ago, trying to enjoy more and hopefully I can win some matches. I do not know what will happen in French open, tennis is very open now, even at the top. Kiki Bertens has a chance, in my opinion, and Stephens again. Many players play well on laughs, we see. I'm also very curious. "