Top seed Simona Halep had the look of a favourite to win this year’s French Open as she destroyed world number 16 Elise Mertens 6-2 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.
The two-time runner-up at Roland Garros made light work of the Belgian, who herself had won two titles on clay in the run up to Paris and 16 of her 17 matches on this surface this season.
However, Mertens’ other defeat on clay this year had been to Simona Halep – in Madrid last month, 6-0 6-3.
The 22-year-old improved on her performance here last year when she reached the third round in what was her Roland Garros debut. She was an Australian Open semi-finalist back in January.
Simona Halep is the bookmakers’ favourite to win this year’s French Open, which would be her first Grand Slam, having been a three-time runner-up. This follows Serena Williams’ withdrawal today after suffering an injury.
The Romanian was in control of the match as early as the third game when she broke Elise Mertens’ serve in an aggressive performance that produced 16 winners.
Halep will meet two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals. The German was a comfortable winner herself today, seeing off Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-3. The 30-year-old has never gone past the quarter-finals here in France.