2015 champion Simona Halep earned her second Top 20 win of the season, defeating birthday girl Coco Gauff in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
2015 champion Simona Halep spoiled Coco Gauff’s birthday celebrations on a windy Sunday night, defeating the 18-year-old American 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open. The former No.1 will face her compatriot Sorana Cirstea next.
While Gauff made her tournament debut just last year, Halep is making her 11th appearance. The 30-year-old Romanian has now made the Round of 16 or better at Indian Wells in six of her last eight appearances and will now look to make her fifth quarterfinal in the California desert.
Facing Gauff for the second time, Halep posted a nearly identical scoreline as their initial meeting at 2019 Wimbledon, which the Romanian won 6-3, 6-3 en route to her title run.
“I thought she played well,” Gauff said. “I thought I had a lot of chances, a couple break points here and there. Overall I think it was a good match. She has a great level and I knew that coming into it. I think I was making the right decisions, just not executing them.”
Tale of the match: On Sunday night, Halep proved the more experienced player in the wind. While Gauff hit 18 winners to 33 unforced errors, Halep kept a much cleaner sheet, striking 11 winners and 12 unforced errors. Halep’s serve also proved impenetrable on the night, as she served 77% first serves in and was unbroken for the match, saving all four break points she faced.
“I’m not scared about the wind,” Halep said. “I have never been. Also when I was a kid. As I said I think I played smart tonight because from one side you had to play differently, from the other side a little bit different. So I think I managed very well all the moments.”
Halep secured the 6-3 opening set after 38 minutes, but Gauff was not without her chances. With Halep serving with a break in hand at 4-3, Gauff earned triple break-point with a series of big forehand strikes. But Halep coolly worked her way back to deuce with the aid of two errant Gauff backhands that landed long and went on to hold to 5-3. Having dodged danger, Halep immediately broke Gauff for a second time to seal the set.
The second set saw both players manage their service games well, with neither player facing a break point until the final game. With Gauff serving at 4-5, Halep earned triple-match point with two phenomenal forehand passing winners and converted on her third to break for the win.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 14, 2022
Now ranked No.26, Halep is now 2-0 vs. Top 20 opponents this season. In addition to her win over No.17 Gauff, Halep also defeated Ons Jabeur en route to the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.
Amidst the defeat, COCO GAUFF went on Twitter to appreciate all her fans for the birthday wishers:
thank you everyone for all of the bday wishes 💗💗💗
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) March 14, 2022
And she was caught shaking hands with Simona Halep to congratulate her with a happy face: