Simona Halep booked her place in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon with a straight-sets victory over Paula Badosa.
The pair held their first service games but former world No. 1 Halep broke to go 2-1 up with an accurate, looping return from far back on the court.
The Romanian had beaten Magdalena Frech in two sets on Saturday to reach this stage, while Badosa was pushed hard by Petra Kvitova at the weekend, meaning the Spaniard may have needed her recovery day more than her opponent.
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After losing three frames on the spin, it might have been fatigue or simply Halep’s superiority, but she made a number of errors that clearly left her feeling frustrated, exacerbated by a second successive break.
The fourth-ranked player quickly found herself 5-1 down and set point arrived after just 22 minutes of play. Moments later, Halep went 1-0 up.
Halep concluded the first game of the second set with an ace as she carried on her dominant form having only dropped three points on her serve by that stage.
At 1-1 there was a wobble for Halep as Badosa earned a break point but she pushed back to ride her first serious challenge of the match. Badosa displayed her own steel when she faced down her own break point in the following game.
However, despite the fightback, Halep was able to move into a 4-2 lead and served to go 5-2 up, rendering any resistance brief and futile.
Halep then brutally broke again to win, marking her first victory on grass over a top-five player, and she reaches the quarter-final stages now widely regarded as the favourite to win the tournament outright.
Speaking later at her post-match press conference, the Romanian spoke of her positive feelings that have grown as the tournament has worn on.
"I feel strong physically; I feel very good mentally," said the no. 16 seed. "So I think everything [has come] together. I feel [like] I have power on court. I feel good playing tennis and I feel good to be on the court. I think this helps me to believe more and to be able to do my best tennis."
When asked whether a lapse of confidence or her recent injury record had hampered her, Halep responded: "Both [confidence and injury have been difficult].
"When they come together, it's really difficult. But, yeah, it started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again. I struggled for a long time. But now it's [in the] past. I'm here. I'm playing well. I'm feeling good on court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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