Simona Halep believes she is playing her best tennis since winning Wimbledon in 2019 after returning to the All England Club semi-finals.

The former world number one is enjoying her first SW19 campaign since that triumph three years ago, with the coronavirus pandemic and a calf injury delaying her return.

The final in 2019 was Halep's fifth at a major, but she has not been back to that stage since.

Now, having swatted aside Amanda Anisimova 6-2 6-4 in the last eight for a 12th consecutive victory at Wimbledon – the longest sequence since 20 straight Serena Williams successes between 2015 and 2018 – she is just one win away.

Halep explained after the Anisimova match that confidence was key, having proven her game was back at a high level in reaching six semi-finals in 2022 – second only to Iga Swiatek (eight) on the WTA Tour.

Three of those last-four appearances have now been on grass, with Johanna Konta in 2017 the last player to achieve that feat in a calendar year.

"Definitely I've played the best tennis [since 2019]," Halep said in her on-court interview. "I struggled a lot last year; now, I'm just trying to build my confidence back.

"The tennis is here, so I just have to believe. I've started to do that, and it feels good."

Asked how high her confidence was now, she replied with a smile: "It's good."

Halep has reached the last four without dropping a set, although that spotless record was briefly threatened by Anisimova, who was a double break down in the second set before breaking back and then leading 40-0 on the Romanian's serve.

Yet Halep dug in to serve out the match and avoid a decider against an opponent with a Tour-leading 12 three-set wins this season.

"I'm very emotional right now, because it means a lot to be back in the semis," Halep said.

"I played a tough opponent today; she could crash the ball in the end, and I didn't know actually what to do.

"But I just believed in myself and said that I had to stay there, strong on my legs – they helped me today – and I believed until the end that I could win."

Elena Rybakina sealed her first grand slam semi-final appearance in impressive fashion as she recovered from a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6 6-2 6-3 in Wimbledon's last eight. 

Rybakina was on the back foot after going a set and a break down on No. 1 Court, but the big-serving 23-year-old quickly shifted through the gears to claim a routine triumph and tee up a last-four clash with Simona Halep.

In doing so, she became the first female Kazakh player to reach a grand slam semi-final in the Open Era, with players from the country having lost on each of their previous eight major quarter-final appearances.

Tomljanovic made a terrific start, moving well and winning 85 per cent of first-serve points as she built on a third-game break to take the opener with an impressive showing.

But after being put under pressure by another Tomljanovic break, Rybakina came roaring back to level the contest, winning 11 consecutive points to clinch the second set as the momentum swung her way.

A reinvigorated Rybakina broke again early in the decider as she took seven successive games and, although she had to wait to seal victory after the duo traded breaks, eventually converted her second match point to continue her best Wimbledon run.

Data Slam: Rybakina serves up a treat

Rybakina came into this contest having served more aces than any other player on the WTA circuit in 2022 (197), and Tomljanovic was powerless to resist as she hit another 15 on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has now made (44) aces at Wimbledon this year, more than any other female player.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Tomljanovic 14/21
Rybakina 34/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tomljanovic 1/1
Rybakina 15/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Tomljanovic 3/9
Rybakina 5/9

Simona Halep's remarkable return to Wimbledon continued with a 6-2 6-4 win over Amanda Anisimova on Centre Court to reach the semi-finals.

Former world number one Halep took the title at the All England Club in 2019 but had not been back since, with coronavirus wrecking the 2020 grass-court season before she missed its entirety in 2021 due to injury.

But it is as if the 30-year-old – backed by new coach Patrick Mouratoglou – had never been away, with Anisimova the victim of a ruthless display on Wednesday.

Anisimova might have hoped the omens were positive, given her only prior quarter-final win in a major came against Halep at the 2019 French Open, but she could hardly have been surprised by her opponent's dominance on this surface; Halep beat Anisimova in the last eight in Bad Homburg last month.

The American soon bowed to the pressure generated by Halep's return, losing five games in a row after initially holding to love. Halep seized her first two break point opportunities as Anisimova twice aimed tired shots into the net from the back of the court.

A cross-court backhand from Halep fended off Anisimova's first opening, ensuring the Romanian eased through the opener before the second set followed a familiar theme.

Anisimova held comfortably to start but then again found Halep resolute, falling 0-40 down and eventually going a break behind with a wayward forehand. Once more it was a double break when an Anisimova drop shot fell some way short.

Anisimova belatedly forced Halep back as she served for the match, taking the second of two break points and then remarkably claiming a 40-0 lead against the serve next time out.

However, Halep, having briefly lost control, recovered her composure and was able to celebrate when Anisimova blasted wide.

Data slam: Anisimova helpless against Halep on grass

Anisimova has won 12 matches in three sets this season, the joint-most on the WTA Tour, but a fightback always appeared unlikely against her imperious opponent.

After almost three years away from competitive grass-court action, Halep has returned in formidable form. In three tournaments on grass in 2022, she has reached three semi-finals. The last player to make a trio of such appearances in a single calendar year was Johanna Konta in 2017.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Halep – 11/6
Anisimova – 13/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Halep – 3/1
Anisimova – 0/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Halep – 4/6
Anisimova – 1/8 

Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep claimed victories on Centre Court on Monday, a day on from celebrating the venue's centenary.

Nadal and Halep were among a host of champions, including Roger Federer and last year's winner Novak Djokovic, to stand on Centre Court on Sunday for a celebration of its 100th anniversary.

A day later, they were back at the venue to seal their respective progressions to the quarter-finals.

Halep, Wimbledon champion in 2019, defeated fourth seed Paula Badosa 6-1 6-2, while Nadal overcame Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

Of female players still competing on the WTA Tour, only Serena Williams (14) and Venus Williams (13) have reached more Wimbledon quarter-finals than Halep (five), who will face Amanda Anisimova in the last eight.

Nadal, meanwhile, has now played 350 matches at grand slams – a total bettered only by Federer and Djokovic.

The 22-time grand slam winner was made to work for victory in the third set by Van de Zandschulp, but having overcome a wobble, went on to secure his 18th straight major match win of 2022.

Asked about being given the honour of taking to Centre Court on Sunday, Nadal said: "Yesterday was a beautiful thing sharing the court with legends of our sport.

"Centre Court for 100 years is something very special."

It was a sentiment echoed by Halep, who is looking to reach her first grand slam semi-final since the 2020 Australian Open and has not dropped a set so far at Wimbledon this year.

"Definitely it was a place I wanted to be today. I think I played a great match," she said. "It was a pleasure to be back on Centre Court with this great crowd supporting me.

"I missed it a lot, three years was a [long time].  Yesterday I was on the court with all the champions and it was amazing. I was more nervous than I was today."

Next up for Nadal is Taylor Fritz, who beat the Spaniard in their last meeting in the final of the Indian Wells Masters earlier this season.

While Nadal is into his eighth Wimbledon quarter-final – and his 47th at a grand slam, a tally that lags behind only Djokovic (53) and Federer (58) – Fritz has never reached the last eight of a major before.

"In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarter-finals after three years, it's amazing for me, so I'm very, very happy," said Nadal, who is hunting the calendar Grand Slam in 2022.

"Every match is different," he added of his tie against Fritz, which he anticipates being tricky.

"He is playing well and having a very good year, including a first Masters 1000 title, against me by the way, but we will be in the quarter-final of Wimbledon, so what should I expect?"

Simona Halep is confident she would know how to handle a Wimbledon panic attack after her traumatic recent Roland Garros experience.

The former world number one is ready for her first return to action at the All England Club since landing the 2019 title, having missed out last year due to a calf injury.

With the 2020 championships cancelled due to the pandemic, it has been a three-year wait for Halep to make another SW19 appearance, and plenty has changed in her life since then.

She married last year and has a high-profile new coach in Patrick Mouratoglou, who helped to guide the career of Serena Williams for almost a decade.

Last month saw Halep suffer an on-court panic attack during a shock second-round defeat to Zheng Qinwen at the French Open, and she was quick to speak about the episode immediately after the match, determined it would be an important step in moving on.

"Hopefully it doesn't happen again because I didn't like it," Halep said in a news conference on Sunday, a day ahead of Wimbledon getting under way.

"It was coming from nowhere because I was leading the match. Probably just the pressure of the tournament, the fact that I struggled last year. I didn't believe that I'm strong enough, probably.

"But now I feel stronger, and I feel that if it's going to happen again, I will know how to handle it.

"It's never easy. It was really tough to handle it. But lately everyone goes through this, with all the situation in the world. I will not be hard on myself that I was weak in that match.

"I just take it as an experience and as a lesson, so next time I'll be better."

Halep has a tough Wimbledon opener against Karolina Muchova, an unseeded player who has reached the quarter-finals in the past two editions of the tournament.

That match will take place on Tuesday, but it will not open up play on Centre Court.

That is usually the honour afforded to the defending champion, but Ash Barty has retired since beating Karolina Pliskova in last year's final.

Some felt that Halep, having missed out last year when she would have been returning to defend the title, should have been given the opening slot this year; however, Wimbledon announced the privilege will go to world number one Iga Swiatek.

"I feel sad that I missed it because I was injured and didn't get the chance," Halep said. "Hopefully I can have another chance, so I can look forward to that."

She will need to win another Wimbledon title for that to happen and will hope the tie-up with Mouratoglou helps her achieve that ambition.

Mouratoglou said in an Instagram post that Halep's results in the clay-court season were "insufficient" for a player of her quality and said he would "take full responsibility" for those.

"I was surprised, shocked that he did the post and took everything on him," Halep said. "But it was not on him, it was me; I was not able to do better and to calm down myself when I panicked. It was new for me as well, and I was not good enough. We are much better after that day.

"We both probably learned some things about each other, and now we will handle better situations like those."

Reigning Eastbourne International champion Jelena Ostapenko will go up against Petra Kvitova in 2022 Saturday's final.

Ostapenko won as a wildcard in 2021, and the world number 14 confirmed her place in this year's showdown by overcoming Camila Giorgi on Friday.

She is the first female player to reach back-to-back finals in Eastbourne since Caroline Wozniacki in 2017 and 2018.

The Latvian, who is also going to compete for the doubles title, prevailed 6-2 6-2 and will now go up against Kvitova. The pair have faced off eight times previously, with each player winning four matches.

It is Kvitova's first appearance in a final in 2022, with the former world number two – and two-time Wimbledon champion – having ended Beatriz Haddad Maia's winning streak.

Haddad Maia won in Birmingham last week and Nottingham the week before, but her run came to an end at 12 matches, with Kvitova triumphing 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

"For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already," said Kvitova, who was a runner-up at Eastbourne in 2011 and last reached a final on grass in Birmingham four years ago.

"Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass."

Meanwhile, at the Bad Homburg Open, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu reached her sixth career final courtesy of a walkover against Simona Halep.

The Romanian withdrew from the semi-final clash with a neck injury, which will worry the 2019 Wimbledon champion ahead of the season's third grand slam at the All England Club.

"I am sorry that I had to withdraw today before my semi-final match," Halep said in a statement.

"But unfortunately I woke up this morning with a blocked neck and this is not allowing me to perform to the best of my ability."

Andreescu will face Caroline Garcia, who saved a match point before going on to beat fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 7-5 to reach an 11th tour-level showpiece.

Serena Williams will begin her Wimbledon challenge against French player Harmony Tan, who will be making her main-draw debut.

For 40-year-old American Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, there will be relief at avoiding a seed in the first round.

That was a possibility given that Williams is in the draw on a wildcard, having not played singles since suffering an ankle injury in her Wimbledon opener 12 months ago.

Instead, the 23-time grand slam winner will face the world number 113, who lost in the first round of the recent French Open, perhaps as soft a landing as Williams could have had.

Wimbledon begins on Monday at the All England Club, with women's defending champion Ash Barty not involved after announcing a shock retirement in March.

Williams has returned to action this week at the Eastbourne International, winning through two rounds in doubles alongside Ons Jabeur, before the duo pulled out due to a knee worry for Jabeur.

Awaiting the winner of Williams versus Tan will be American Christina McHale or Spanish 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, while last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova is a potential third-round obstacle.

Women's top seed Iga Swiatek starts against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett, while Britain's US Open champion Emma Raducanu was drawn to face the experienced Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, a player who knocked out the then-defending champion Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon four years ago.

Tunisian third seed Jabeur was paired with Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund, Pliskova faces fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, and American Coco Gauff, fresh from a first grand slam final in Paris, drew Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who may struggle to live up to her billing as the second seed having never previously gone past round three, plays American Bernarda Pera first up.

Among former champions, Angelique Kerber tackles Kristina Mladenovic in her opener, while Simona Halep was handed a tough assignment against Karolina Muchova.

Of all the players in the draw this year, Muchova is the woman with the highest winning percentage in Wimbledon main draw matches.

The Czech has an 80 per cent success record, winning eight matches and losing twice after reaching the quarter-finals in her both previous appearances, losing to Elina Svitolina in 2019 and Kerber last season.

Bianca Andreescu dismantled top seed Daria Kasatkina to reach the semi-finals of the Bad Homburg Open, while Beatriz Haddad Maia moved a step closer to a third straight title in Eastbourne. 

A resounding 6-4 6-1 win over Kasatkina saw Andreescu advance to the last four of a WTA Tour grass-court tournament for the first time. 

The last time she reached the semi-finals in any event was the 2021 Miami Open, where she finished as runner-up after retiring with an ankle injury in the second set of the final against Ash Barty. 

Andreescu limited Kasatkina to just 17.6 per cent of the points behind the Russian's second serve and saved four of the six break points she faced to book a meeting with Simona Halep. 

Former world number one Halep sent down 10 aces and converted all three of the break points that came her way in a 6-2 6-1 success over Amanda Anisimova. 

The other semi-final will be an all-French affair after Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia downed home hopes Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki respectively. 

After going all the way in Nottingham and Birmingham this month, Haddad Maia progressed to the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International courtesy of a walkover against Lesia Tsurenko. 

Next up for Haddad Maia is Petra Kvitova, who she beat in straight sets in the first round in Birmingham, after the Czech ended Harriet Dart's run to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 win. 

Jelena Ostapenko cruised to a 6-3 6-2 victory against Anhelina Kalinina and will take on Camila Giorgi for a place in the final. Giorgi comfortably overcame lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-2 6-1 in 64 minutes. 

Garbine Muguruza saw her Wimbledon preparations take a hit as she fell to a last-16 defeat at the Eastbourne International on Wednesday. 

World number 26 Camila Giorgi battled from a break down in both sets to beat fifth seed Muguruza 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 53 minutes. 

That meant 12th seed Giorgi made her second straight quarter-final, following a last-eight appearance in Birmingham, and will next face Viktoriya Tomova, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens 3-6 6-3 6-4. 

Jil Teichmann, the 10th seed at the tournament, was a notable second-round elimination, falling to a 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-3 defeat to Briton Harriet Dart, who later triumphed 6-4 2-6 6-4 over Marta Kostyuk. 

Dart's fellow Briton Katie Boulter stunned last year's Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the second round but had no such luck against Petra Kvitova, losing 5-7 6-0 7-5. 

Beatriz Haddad Maia, the winner at the Birmingham Open last week, extended to a 12-match winning streak with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Jodie Burrage. 

Jelena Ostapenko also progressed after Madison Keys retired when 6-3 down and will next face Anhelina Kalinina, who battled to a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win over 16th seed Yulia Putintseva. 

While seeds fell at Eastbourne, there were not as many shocks at the Bad Homburg Open, where Angelique Kerber defeated Lucia Bronzetti 6-2 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals. 

Fourth seed Simona Halep also made the last eight with 6-0 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek and will meet Amanda Anisimova after she won an All-American match against Ann Li 6-0 6-2. 

Alize Cornet downed Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to tee up a clash with Kerber, while Bianca Andreescu will meet top seed Daria Kasatkina after defeating Katie Swan 6-4 6-4. 

Katie Boulter stunned last year's Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova at the Eastbourne International as the Briton secured the first top-10 scalp of her career.

Despite making a strong start, fourth seed Pliskova faltered and lost 1-6 6-4 6-4 to the world number 127 in the pair's last-32 match.

Boulter said: "I'm super-proud of myself today. I went out there and didn't feel great on court, and I worked so hard to battle and fight, and against a player like that it means so much to me, coming through that."

There was another major shock win for a British player later in the day as Jodie Burrage knocked out top seed Paula Badosa, the world number 169 triumphing 6-4 6-3 against a player who will be seeded fourth at Wimbledon.

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-4 and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova saw off Donna Vekic 6-1 7-6 (7-1), while Beatriz Haddad Maia's strong form on grass continued with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Brazilian left-hander Haddad Maia is coming off the back of title wins in Nottingham and Birmingham and stretched her winning run on grass to 11 matches.

There were also wins in Eastbourne for Camila Giorgi, Madison Keys and Barbora Krejcikova, but Greek third seed Maria Sakkari bowed out, losing 3-6 7-5 6-4 to Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.

At the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, the 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep scrambled for a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win against Katerina Siniakova, and sixth seed Amanda Anisimova came from a set down to see off Alison van Uytvanck in a third-set tie-break.

Bianca Andreescu saw off Martina Trevisan 6-3 6-1 and Angelique Kerber also won in straight sets, while top seed and recent French Open semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina reached the quarter-finals with a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win over Germany's Jule Niemeier.

Kasatkina will be absent from Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian players.

Beatriz Haddad Maia claimed back-to-back WTA Tour titles after Zhang Shuai retired hurt in the Birmingham Classic final on Sunday.

Haddad Maia enjoyed a fine day, beating second seed and two-time major champion Simona Halep 6-3 2-6 6-4 in a rearranged semi-final (postponed from Saturday due to rain).

Zhang followed that up by battling past Halep's Romanian compatriot Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-5), setting up a second career match with Haddad Maia.

The Brazilian struggled in the opening stages, with Zhang racing into the lead before squandering an opportunity to go 3-0 up.

Haddad Maia soon recovered to level at 3-3 before Zhang was forced to retire with an apparent neck injury, with the Chinese player 5-4 down in the first set.

 

That handed the world number 32 her second straight title after success at the Nottingham Open last week, with Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek the only others to record multiple WTA Tour triumphs this year.

Haddad Maia also became the first Brazilian lift the trophy in the tournament's 40-year history, surpassing the previous best result by a player from Brazil when Gisele Miro made the second round in 1989.

Ons Jabeur kept Coco Gauff waiting for a top 10 debut as the Tunisian battled past her teenage opponent to reach the Berlin Open final.

Gauff would have secured a career-high ranking on the WTA list if she had won Saturday's semi-final, but top seed Jabeur took it 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to earn a shot at Belinda Bencic in the title match.

Only world number one Iga Swiatek has won more matches on the WTA Tour than fourth-ranked Jabeur this year, who collected a 29th win as she overcame a 3-1 career head-to-head deficit against Gauff to earn the victory.

Gauff, at 18 years and 98 days, would have become the youngest American to reach a grass-court singles final on tour since Andrea Jaeger was runner-up to Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1983.

It was not to be her day though, Jabeur breaking serve for the fourth time in the match to seal victory, encouraged by a large and vocal Tunisian following.

Reflecting on the match, Jabeur said: "When you play Coco you have to have all the shots. She's a talented player; she's very tough to beat. You can see I've lost already three times against her.

"Sometimes she takes it, sometimes I take it, and it was a great match for both of us."

This is just the second WTA tournament where 27-year-old Jabeur has been a top seed.

"I've tried to act like a number one seed on and off the court, and it's a good pressure," she added. "I'm trying to handle it very well and with the support of our Tunisian people here it's great."

Olympic gold medallist Bencic had earlier claimed an impressive 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4 win over Greek second seed Maria Sakkari in the first semi-final.

Jabeur was bettered by Bencic in a hard-fought Charleston final in April, but is determined to secure a different outcome this time.

"I'm definitely going for the final revenge because we played each other at Charleston, and it was a very, very tough match," Jabeur said. "I hope she's tired from today's match."

Rain meant there was no play at the Birmingham Classic on Saturday, with the semi-finals set back to Sunday.

Beatriz Haddad Maia will face 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, while Zhang Shuai tackles Sorana Cirstea.

Coco Gauff reached the first grass-court semi-final of her career by beating Karolina Pliskova at the Berlin Open, teeing up a clash with top seed Ons Jabeur.

Having already recorded her best tour-level run on grass by reaching the final eight, Gauff recorded a superb 7-5 6-4 win over two-time grand slam finalist Pliskova.

Gauff – who reached her first grand slam final at Roland Garros last month, saved four set points in the opener before roaring to victory in one hour and 37 minutes, and was delighted to have overcome a tough opponent in the world number seven.

"I'm super happy with how I played today," Gauff said on court after the win. "Playing her on grass, with her serve, how flat she hits the ball, it was really tough to be honest. 

"A first semi-final on grass is pretty cool, and also I feel like the opponents I've played this week haven’t been easy, especially today, so I'm proud of myself about that."

Gauff will face Jabeur for a spot in the final after the Tunisian fought back from one set down in a 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-2 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who entered the contest having won 26 matches during an impressive year.

The other semi-final will see Maria Sakkari face Belinda Bencic, after the world number six cruised to a 6-0 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina and Bencic beat Veronika Kudermetova 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In the Birmingham Classic, meanwhile, Simona Halep raced to a 6-4 6-1 win over Katie Boulter to reach the final four, but third seed Camila Giorgi fell to a 6-3 6-2 loss to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who has now won eight consecutive games on grass.

While that pair will face off in one of Saturday's semi-finals, eighth seed Zhang Shuai will face Sorana Cirstea in the other. Zhang overcame Dayana Yastremska 7-5 6-4 and sixth seed Cirstea beat Donna Vekic 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Simona Halep won her first match on grass since 2019 as she cruised past Lesia Tsurenko to reach the second round of the Birmingham Classic on Monday.

Halep's last grass-court match was the impressive 6-2 6-2 defeat of Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

While Monday's triumph may not have been of comparable importance, the 6-1 6-4 win was a positive step in Halep's preparation for a return to SW19 later this month.

After saving three break points in the very first game, the former world number one rarely looked in trouble against her Ukrainian opponent, breaking Tsurenko's serve at the first opportunity.

She repeated the feat to go 5-1 up before serving to love to close out the set, though Tsurenko showed a bit more fight at the start of the second – only one of the first five service games was a hold.

Halep ultimately weathered the storm, however, taking her chance to go 5-4 up and once again served to love to wrap up the match.

Seeded second, Halep was the only seed in action on Monday and will meet home favourite Harriet Dart next, with the Brit impressively seeing off Camila Osorio – ranked 45 places better off – 6-2 6-0.

In Berlin, fourth and sixth seeds Karolina Pliskova and Daria Kasatkina secured their passage to the last 16.

Pliskova struggled initially against Kaia Kanepi but went on to produce two near-flawless sets to progress 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-0 – Kasatkina also came from behind, with an ankle injury to Anhelina Kalinina potentially aiding her 5-7 6-3 6-1 victory.

Bianca Andreescu was also among the winners in Berlin, with the Canadian beating Katerina Siniakova to claim only her second career success on grass.

Former world number one Simona Halep says she suffered a panic attack during her second round match with Zheng Qinwen, contributing to her early French Open exit.

The 2018 Roland Garros champion became the latest big name to make a shock departure from Paris inside the first week after blowing a first set lead to lose 2-6 6-2 6-1.

It marked a major scalp for the unseeded Zhang, who previously lost to Halep in January, and was arguably the biggest win of the Chinese teenager's career at her competition debut.

But Halep, who looked to be in cruise control early on, revealed she suffered an unexpected setback that threw her rhythm in her post-match comments, though she has now recovered.

"I was playing well at the start," she stated. "I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.

"It was just a panic attack. I didn't know how to handle it, because I don't have [them] often. I don't really know why it happened, because I was leading the match. I was playing well

"After the match, [it] was pretty tough.  But now I'm good. I'm recovered, and I will learn from this episode. It's good that now I can smile."

On her overall time at Roland Garros, Halep admitted she was happy to come through it unscathed, adding: "Tomorrow is a new day. 

"I know it's like a cliche, but it's a new day, and I'll wake up motivated to keep working. [I've] no injury, which is really good. Now I'm in a good place."

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