China's Li Na defeats Simona Halep of Romania in second round at Wimbledon
Chinese sixth seed Li Na overcame the in-form Simona Halep in a roller-coaster Wimbledon second-round match last night.
Halep, world No32, was the toughest possible second-round opponent for a seed with her high ranking and impressive winning run, but Li survived a second-set scare to eventually triumph 6-2, 1-6, 6-0.
Halep went into the match on the back of an 11-match unbeaten streak, winning Nuremburg on clay and Den Bosch on grass the following week to claim her first tour titles.
In addition, Halep had already beaten Li in the US Open first round in straight sets in 2011, when the Chinese was the reigning French Open champion.
That was their only previous encounter, and the first of two times that Halep had beaten a top-10 player.
However, Li's experience finally told on the 2,000-seater Court Three, and the 31-year-old next plays either Czech 32nd seed Klara Zakopalova or Germany's Annika Beck in the third round.
"I felt I played very well in the first set," Li said. "I lost a little bit of confidence. This is women's tennis: it's always crazy on the court."
In theory, the potential path to the title is much more open for Li now that three of the five higher-ranking seeds - Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani - are out.
"I couldn't believe they have so many top seeds that are out of the tournament," Li said. "I have to try to stay as long as I can, I didn't want to go out next."
Li's Wimbledon best was reaching the 2006 and 2010 quarter-finals, though she tumbled in the second round on her last two All England Club outings.
Compatriot Peng Shuai's tournament ended in a 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 defeat by New Zealander Marina Erakovic.
Serena Williams avoided the kind of early exit that has sent many top players tumbling out of the tournament, beating Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round.
Next up for the 31-year-old Williams is a rare matchup against an opponent more than a decade her senior.
She will face Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, who at 42 became the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the Open era. Date-Krumm beat Alexandra Cadantu of Romania 6-4, 7-5 to reach the third round for the first time since 1996, when she went to the semi-finals.