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Simona Halep makes ruthless return to Centre Court and reaches quarter-finals

·3 min read

Former champion Simona Halep dismantled fourth seed Paula Badosa to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a statement win.

The Romanian, back at SW19 – and on Centre Court – for the first time since her title triumph in 2019, steamrollered a nervous looking Badosa 6-1 6-2 in just 59 minutes.

Spaniard Badosa had beaten another former winner, Petra Kvitova, in round three but found Halep too hot to handle.

Halep motored through the first set in just 23 minutes and there was no let-up in the second as the 30-year-old – who did not play at SW19 last year due to injury – took her Wimbledon winning streak to 11 matches.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Eight – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Simona Halep was back on Centre Court after a three-year absence (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“I think I played a great match, she’s a great player but I enjoyed a lot being back on Centre Court,” said Halep.

“I’m really pleased with the way I have played this tournament so far, day by day it’s getting better and I’m looking forward to the next one and giving my best again.”

Halep joined the parade of former champions on Sunday to celebrate Centre Court’s centenary.

She added: “I missed a lot playing here for three years, it’s very special to be back.

“I was here yesterday with the other champions, and I was more nervous yesterday than today.”

Halep has endured a horrible year with injuries and self-doubt, but she is showing glimpses of the form which landed her the French Open title in 2018 and Wimbledon a year later.

“It means a lot that I’m back in a quarter-finals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” she said.

“But I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. Actually I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on court.

Paula Badosa was well beaten on Centre Court
Paula Badosa was well beaten on Centre Court (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“I think that helps me a lot to be able to play my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Halep, seeded 16, will meet American 20th seed Amanda Anisimova after she ended the fairytale run of Harmony Tan – who beat Serena Williams in the first round – 6-2 6-3.

Moscow-born Elena Rybakina is also through after beating Petra Martic of Croatia 7-5 6-3.

Rybakina, 23, is able to compete at Wimbledon despite the ban on Russian players as she switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018.

The 17th seed has yet to drop a set this fortnight and said: “I’m really happy that all these matches, I managed to win in two sets.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Eight – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Elena Rybakina is through to the last eight (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’m enjoying my time here now because I didn’t have much expectation. I didn’t have good preparation.

“I didn’t start the grass season well in two other tournaments but I knew that the surface suits my game very good and in the end I’m just trying to enjoy every match I play.”

Rybakina will play unseeded Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who beat Iga Swiatek’s conqueror Alize Cornet of France 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Tomljanovic has had to check into a hotel after her father only booked her a rented house until Friday last week.

Ratko Tomljanovic has now had to extend that reservation again, with his daughter shrugging: “Yeah, he just extended it past… I play Wednesday, so probably until like Thursday morning.”