Halep gets off the mark in Melbourne

Simona Halep, the No 2 seed at the Melbourne Summer Set 1, advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-2 win over another local qualifier Destanee Aiava on Wednesday.

The two-time Grand Slam champion began her preparation in confident form after being troubled by a calf issue that forced her out of last year’s French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, showing no signs of the problem in her 78-minute stay on Rod Laver Arena.

Trailing 3-4 in the first set, the Romanian switched gears to take the next 5 games before finishing in style, and will now take on compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the second round.

The 30-year old, who is a former World No 1 and currently sits at 20 in the rankings, is the second favourite for the title and won after an hour and 18 minutes.

Halep will meet compatriot Gabriela Ruse, whom she played in the doubles in Melbourne Summer Set 2 but the pair lost in the first round to 2nd seeds Bernarda Pera & Katerina Siniakova, 6-2 7-6(5).

Ruse took out Aussie wild-card Anna Rodionova, 6-3 6-2, on Tuesday.

Halep and Ruse have played  each other once before, which was last year at the Transylvania Open, when the No 2 seed won 6-1 6-2 in the first round.

Aussie Lizette Cabrera took the opening set but could not capitalise as she fell to Anastasia Potapova in the Summer Set 1 draw.

Russian third seed Veronika Kudermetova narrowly edged out qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova from Slovakia, 7-6(4) 7-6(6), in their first-round Melbourne Summer Set 1 clash on Rod Laver Arena.

It was the second time from as many meetings the World No 31 had beaten the Slovak in two tiebreaks.

She sent down 10 aces and claimed 71 per cent of first-serve points to move through to the second round, where she will meet either Madison Brengle, who needed 2 tiebreaks to beat Japan’s Nao Hibino, 7-6(3) 7-6(4).

Hungarian qualifier Anna Bondar upset 8th seed Katerina Siniakova in their first-round match-up.

Bondar won 7-5 7-6(8) in an hour and 56 minutes, and will play Russia’s Anastasia Potapova next, who came through her first-round match against wild-card Lizette Cabrera of Australia, 5-7 6-2 6-2.

Elsewhere, France’s Clara Burel was a 6-3 7-6(6) winner over China’s Shuai Zhang and will take on Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, who upset 3rd-seeded Liudmilla Samsonova from Russia on Tuesday, 6-3 7-6(3).



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