The Romanian scored her first two-set win in dismissing Lesia Tsurenko.

Defending French Open champion Simona Halep is back in the second week of the tournament. The third seed improved to 8-0 against Lesia Tsurenko, defeating the No. 27 seed, 6-2, 6-1, in Saturday’s opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“It was a tough match even if the score doesn’t show that. She’s always a difficult opponent and I knew that she played a lot for her previous matches, so I had to be very focused,” Halep told Marion Bartoli on-court afterwards. “I had to be strong [with] my game, and I did everything I could. So I’m very happy moving through to the fourth round here again in Paris.”

Halep is bidding to become the first woman to retain the Roland Garros crown since 2007, when Justin Hein won her third consecutive title. The 26-year-old came into Paris without a title this season but reached her second final in Madrid three weeks ago, finishing runner-up to Kiki Bertens. For a place in the quarterfinals, Halep will take on Monica Puig or Iga Swiatek.

Entering this encounter, Tsurenko had outlasted Aleksandra Krunic 11-9 in the third, showing incredible resolve when Krunic served for the match four times. Against Halep, the Ukrainian was unable to hold once in the match, hitting five double faults—including three in a row to drop the third game. Halep cleverly disguised a forehand drop shot off a deep netcord at 4-2, 15-15, and Tsurenko pulled up awkwardly after attempting to track it down..

Halep, who felt sick during her second-round win over Magda Linette, was eager to press forward. The Romanian was forced to play three sets in her opening two matches, but her consistent hitting and defensive endurance combined with Tsurenko’s fatigue and serving troubles enabled the Romanian to advance in 55 minutes. Halep won 18 of 19 points on Tsurenko’s second serve.

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