Wimbledon 2019: Simona Halep ends Gauff’s fairytale with straight-sets win

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Cori Gauff’s Wimbledon fairytale came to a crashing end as she lost 6-3, 6-3 to world number seven Simona Halep, who showed her class to earn a quarter-final place on Monday.

All good things must come to an end, so the saying goes. Cori Gauff’s remarkable ascent, from three qualifying wins to successive victories over Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog meant with each passing minute belief intensified. She could actually do it all.

But alas, the 15-year-old found her challenge on Court One a step too far against Simona Halep, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Simona turned professional in 2006 and yet is only 27. She was ranked world number one on two separate occasions and held the title for 64 total weeks, which is tenth in women’s tennis history.

With 18 WTA singles trophies to her name, as well as her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year, she will move up to world no.4 if she goes on to win the tournament this Saturday.

Although 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and home favourite Johanna Konta are among those left in the draw, the Romanian is playing at a level close to the form she enjoyed on her ascent to world number one status.

Unpredictable start by both, but Halep eventually leads

Giving a player of her quality an early break only serves as added motivation to dictate points, after Gauff recorded three successive unforced errors and watched helplessly as Halep unleashed a brilliant slice winner down-the-line.

Cori responded accordingly to level and take a 2-1 lead, before Halep gifted the American two break points after three consecutive double-faults. She saved both and held her serve but after 15 minutes, you could sense this wasn’t an ordinary watch.

Halep’s excellent shot defence, difficult shots and powerful winners were on full display. (Picture source: Getty)

Halep continued to press the issue with forehand winners and tough shots down-the-line, but Cori reacted defiantly. More aggressive and daring with her shot selection, her impressive defence was on display – but Halep was proving too strong.

If the teenager had admirable defensive skills, Simona’s were on a different level entirely. Cori hit what she thought was a ferocious forehand winner but Halep responded with a ridiculous return, which flew crosscourt in an instant and was inside the line to win the point in style. Frankly, she had no right but it was a beautiful shot nonetheless.

At 4-3 down, Gauff’s unforced error count continued to increase and Halep extended her grip on the match by earning a 6-3 first set lead. Halep continued to press the issue with forehand winners and tough shots down-the-line, but Cori reacted defiantly. More aggressive and daring with her shot selection, her impressive defence was on display – but Simona was proving too strong.

Courageous Gauff outshone by halep, on a different level

If the teenager had admirable defensive skills, Simona’s were on a different level entirely. Cori hit what she thought was a ferocious forehand winner but Halep responded with a ridiculous return, which flew crosscourt in an instant and was inside the line to win the point in style. Frankly, she had no right but it was a beautiful shot nonetheless.

At 4-3 down, Gauff’s unforced error count continued to increase and Halep extended her grip on the match by earning a 6-3 first set lead. Cori called for the doctor and looked in some discomfort early in the second, but won the following two games after suffering from abdominal pain and appeared to be in with a chance.

Gauff receiving medical attention after suffering some abdominal discomfort early in the second set (Picture: Getty)

That didn’t last long. Halep won three successive games and found her serving range to devastating effect, as Gauff had no answers and looked downbeat with the match quickly slipping away from her. To her credit, she saved two match points at 5-2 down – but that was delaying the inevitable, rather than a repeat of her third-round heroics against Hercog.

A futile challenge ultimately ended her Wimbledon dream but at 15, she’s still got plenty of developing to do and deserves all the credit coming her way after getting this far to begin with.

What’s next?

Halep is set to face Chinese international Shuai Zhang in Tuesday’s quarter-final and she’ll be hoping for a repeat performance after spending one hour 17 minutes on-court against a dangerous opponent that she dispatched efficiently on this occasion.

As for Gauff, perspective is key here. The loss is sure to hurt, but after a whirlwind fortnight in London, she’ll be grateful and if anything this will fuel her motivation to keep improving.

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