Simona Halep and Serena Williams reach third round at Roland Garros

Defending champion Simona Halep made it through to the French Open third round, where she joined three-time winner Serena Williams.

World number three Halep overcame illness to beat Poland’s Magda Linette 6-4 5-7 6-3 in two hours 11 minutes.

“I didn’t feel that great. Tomorrow I will sleep all day because I am a bit sick,” said Halep.

Earlier, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams beat Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara 6-3 6-2.

Halep recovers from missed match points to win

Halep showed her intentions from the off, breaking her Polish opponent’s serve in the very first game with a stunning forehand winner.

Linette, 27, soon broke back to level the set at 2-2, before immediately losing on her own serve as Halep went on to hold for a 4-2 lead.

The next two games went against serve before Linette held and Halep secured the opening set in 49 minutes.

In the second set, Halep broke Linette’s second service game and looked set to serve out the match when she found herself 40-30 ahead at 5-4 up.

But stunning play from Linette, particularly on the forehand, frustrated Halep as the world number 87 defied her ranking to break back before winning the set.

Halep controlled the deciding set from the start, though, breaking Linette’s serve on three occasions as she went 5-1 up.

But unforced errors started to creep into her game as Linette mounted a comeback – Halep eventually wrapping up the set and match on a break.

She will next play Aleksandra Krunic or Lesia Tsurenko, whose match was suspended at 6-6 in the third set as darkness fell.

Meanwhile, there will be no French woman in the Roland Garros third round for the first time since 1986 after Caroline Garcia was knocked out.

Garcia, seeded 24th, was beaten by Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 1-6 6-4 6-4.

‘It’s going to get better’ – Williams happy after Nara win

Serena Williams won the French Open in 2002, 2013 and 2015

Williams, 37, needed just one hour seven minutes to prevail over Japan’s Nara. The first set remained on serve for the first seven games, with world number 238 Nara proving a decent match for her opponent in the opening exchanges.

But Williams eventually broke 27-year-old Nara’s serve to move 5-3 ahead before serving out the set.

She dominated the second set, breaking Nara’s serve twice before serving out the match with an ace, having not dropped a point in the final game.

“I’m very serious when I play, but I’m happy,” said Williams.

“I have had a tough year since I twisted my ankle in Australia.

“It’s just been really tough after that. So everything definitely feels a little bit harder than normal, but at the same time, I know that it’s going to get better.”

On facing fellow American Sofia Kenin next, Williams said: “I know her game really well. She had a really great run in Australia, and I have been watching her.

“I think it will be a good match. She has a lot to bring to the table.”

‘I’ll remember it forever’ – Williams inspires Anisimova, 17

Amanda Anisimova reached only the first round on her previous French Open appearance in 2017

Elsewhere, fellow American Amanda Anisimova reached the third round after beating 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-2.

She will next play Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, who defeated Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 1-6 6-3 6-4.

At 17, Anisimova is the youngest American to reach the third round at Roland Garros since Williams in 1999.

“She’s done so much for the sport,” world number 51 Anisimova said of Williams.

“She’s a huge inspiration to me. I really look up to her. That’s just great to be achieving stuff similar to her.

“Actually when I had a tough loss at the Miami Open – it was a really long match and I was super upset in the locker room – Serena actually came up to me and we shared a little bit of a chat.

“That was really nice of her, and I’ll remember it forever.”

Williams said: “I just needed to do that, and I know she’s super young. I really love all the new young players.

“It’s just so exciting. I feel like tennis has done so much for me, and to see a new generation come through is great.”

Meanwhile, Poland’s junior Wimbledon champion Iga Swiatek, also 17,knocked out 16th seed Wang Qiang of China 6-3 6-0 in under an hour.

Swiatek will play Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig after the Olympic champion beat Russian 21st seed Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1.

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