Heather Watson found fourth seed Simona Halep in superb form as her French Open came to an end in the second round yesterday.
Watson, who followed Andy Murray onto the Court 1 bullring, made it close in the second set but went down 2-6 4-6 in an hour and 19 minutes.
Romanian Halep has rocketed up the rankings over the past year, winning more titles than any other woman except Serena Williams.
She is the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw following Li Na’s first-round loss, and is second favourite for the title behind Maria Sharapova despite only having reached one grand slam quarter-final.
Like Watson, Halep is a superb athlete, and the soon-to-be British No 1 found it extremely difficult to pierce her opponent’s defences. Watson has committed to an attacking brand of tennis, but finding the right balance proved difficult and she certainly made more errors than she would have liked.
The 22-year-old retrieved an early break of serve by Halep to make it 2-2, but the Romanian then reeled off four straight games to clinch the opening set.
Halep moved into an early lead in the second set as well and, although Watson did a good job at hanging onto her serve, so did her opponent.
Watson had two chances to make it 5-5 but could not take either and Halep clinched victory on her second match point with a forehand winner.
Halep, the highest seed left in the women’s draw, will meet Spain’s Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.
Andrea Petkovic, 28th seed, secured a 6-2 4-6 6-2 winner over Stefanie Voegele.
The German is the only seed left in her quarter and next meets Li Na’s conqueror Kristina Mladenovic, who backed up her victory by defeating American Alison Riske in three sets.
There are five players left in the bottom half who have made a grand slam final – Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic – with the latter three having won titles. Maria Sharapova plays Argentina’s Paula Ormaecheam today.
Murray through: Page 19.