Simona Halep survives tough match against Kateryna Kozlova at BNP Paribas Open
No. 2 seed Simona Halep was pushed Sunday by qualifier Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine, but Halep believes she gained from having to work for a 7-6 (3), 7-5 victory in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Kozlova broke Halep’s serve to pull even at 5-5 in the first set, held in the next game for a 6-5 lead and was two points from winning the set, but Halep fought back to 6-6 and easily took the tiebreaker. They traded breaks in the first four games of the second set and were even at 5-5 before Halep pulled away.
“When I was leading the match she played without fear and I felt like she was playing much better in those games. It was difficult for me to close those sets,” the 27-year-old Romanian said. “But I’m actually proud that I could do that. It was also cold a little bit, so the conditions were not easy today.”
Halep’s third-round opponent will be unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who upset No. 22 Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Halep and Vondrousova have never faced each other.
In other women’s matches, No. 6 Elina Svitolina defeated unseeded Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-4; No. 7 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands outlasted Johanna Konta of Great Britain 7-6 (10), 6-4; No. 18 Wang Qiang of China eliminated No. 16 Elise Mertens of Belgium 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-3 and No. 12 Ashleigh Barty defeated wild-card Jennifer Brady, who played two years for UCLA, 6-3, 6-2.
Lucky losers and unlucky losers
Andrey Rublev of Russia, added to the main draw as a “lucky loser” when Pablo Carreno Busta withdrew because of an injury, took advantage of his good fortune by beating Robin Haase 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, to reach the third round.
No. 14 Daniil Medvedev of Russia eliminated former UCLA star Mackenzie McDonald 7-5, 6-0, but McDonald teamed with Reilly Opelka as a first-time doubles duo and defeated Mannarino and Gael Monfils 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The match was moved to the main court on short notice after Serena Williams became ill and retired from her match against Garbine Muguruza.
“It was awesome. Not often do you get to play on that court,” McDonald said.
Despite his singles loss, McDonald took encouragement from beating Joao Sousa in the first round and his experiences.
“I think I still played some good tennis, made some good strides,” he said. “I think I played pretty well in the singles. In the first set [Sunday], I thought I was really taking it to him and did some good things. Just kind of building off that and learning from that. Enjoying the doubles. Played a good match the other day, too. It’s all positives. Just keep going forward.”
Oracle grants are awarded
JC Aragone of Yorba Linda, who played on three NCAA championship teams at Virginia, and former North Carolina standout Jamie Loeb won the third annual Oracle U.S. Tennis Awards.
Each will receive a $100,000 grant to help them further their careers.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
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