Lucic-Baroni returns to haunt Halep

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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Third seed Simona Halep crashed out in the French Open second round to Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the same opponent she lost to at last year’s US Open.

Halep, who reached the final in Roland Garros 12 months ago, had lost to Lucic-Baroni in the third round at Flushing Meadows and lightning struck twice as the world number 70 claimed a shock 7-5 6-1 victory.

It is the first time Halep has failed to go past round two in a grand slam since 2013 and Lucic-Baroni admits she had been looking forward to the contest as soon as the draw came out

“When I saw the draw and I saw who I was playing second round, I knew it was going to be really tough,” Lucic-Baroni said.

“I was going to have to play a great match again and back up what I did at the US Open.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, it’s one day, everything went in’, and I don’t look at it like that.

“I know I played really well. I have been working really hard, and I knew today I had to play some great tennis. I was ready for it.”

Lucic-Baroni, who now faces France’s Alize Cornet in the next round, struggled to contain her emotions after the victory.

“At the US Open, it was the first time in a really long time that I’ve had a really good result like that so I was extremely emotional,” she said.

“Now, after seeing that video a few times of my press conference, I’m trying to hold it together a little bit better but no, I don’t hide my emotion.

“This is who I am and I was really so happy so I shed a few tears today on the court, as well. I don’t try to hide that.”

Halep had been in the same half as second seed Maria Sharapova, who cruised past Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3 6-1.

Sharapova has reached three consecutive French Open finals and the defending champion looked in impressive form, hitting five aces and 24 winners during the contest.

She will now play Australia’s Samantha Stosur, who was the 2010 runner-up in Paris but lost when the pair met in last year’s round of 16.

“Samantha is always a tough opponent,” Sharapova said.

“She enjoys playing on clay and benefits a lot from this surface. It will be a tough match but I have a pretty good record against her.

“I enjoy our matches. I hope I can continue that.”

Sharapova added: “She has a very heavy ball, and I think on clay specifically it just really penetrates through the court.

“She has one of the best kick serves in the game and she slices a lot. There are a lot of untraditional things that she does, but I enjoy that challenge.”

Stosur thrashed French wildcard Amandine Hesse 6-0 6-1 and admits she will have to raise her game again to beat the world number two.

“Maria is always a big challenge for me. No matter what surface it’s on, I don’t have a very good record at all,” Stosur said.

“Obviously we played last year. That’s the last time we played against each other so it’s always a big challenge, and I’ve got to be ready to play as well, if not better than what I have been doing.”

Top seed Serena Williams and Britain’s Heather Watson both play on Thursday.

Watson faces America’s Sloane Stephens while Williams is up against Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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