By CHRIS LEHOURITES, AP Sports Writer
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Simona Halep’s serve was working, her returns were landing, and the points were piling up fast.
That’s a pretty good combination for a player who just advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals by winning her 11th straight match at the All England Club but says she is still trying to get back to her best tennis and regain the confidence she lost while injured.
“I worked really hard in the past two, three months. I’m really happy with all that I’ve done,” said Halep, who won the Wimbledon championship in 2019 but missed defending her title last year because of a left calf injury. “I got the confidence. I really feel this is my game. I’m pushing myself to do it as much as possible. I want to improve still.”
It’ll be tough to improve on Monday’s display on Centre Court.
The 16th-seeded Halep advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the fifth time by beating fourth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2. She lost only eight points on her serve and saved the only break point she faced. On the other side of the ball, the Romanian won 30 of the 55 points served by Badosa.
“I was just missing,” Badosa said. “Some days it goes in the line. And some days, like today, all of them go out.”
Halep’s next opponent will be Amanda Anisimova. The 20th-seeded American finally ended the debut run of Harmony Tan, a French player who eliminated Serena Williams in the first round, by winning 6-2, 6-3.
Also Monday, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and will next face Elena Rybakina. The 17th-seeded Rybakina defeated Petra Martic 7-5, 6-3.
Halep is the only former Grand Slam champion left in the women’s tournament. In April, she started working with PatrickMouratoglou, the former coach of Williams.
Halep injured her calf more than a year ago, forcing her to withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon. She would have been the defending champion at the grass-court Grand Slam last year because the 2020 tournament was canceled amid the pandemic.
The 30-year-old Halep has said the injury made her consider retirement. There doesn’t seem to be any thought of that now.
“It means a lot that I’m back in a quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” Halep said. “But, as I said, 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.”
With third-seeded Ons Jabeur in the other half of the draw, Halep is favored to get back into the final.
First, though, she has to get past Anisimova — the last American in the tournament.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge,” Halep said of her next match. “It’s quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward for it.”
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