Simona Halep ready for Australian Open with first title in 16 months


Fit-again Simona Halep regained her first title in 16 months as she returned to form to beat Russian Veronika Kudermatova to take the Melbourne summer set crown on Sunday, saying she was confident and feeling well . The two-time Grand Slam champion used all her big match experience to go 6-2, 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena in ideal preparation for the Australian Open starting January 17. There were two WTA events together. As part of the Melbourne summer set, Amanda Anisimova defeated Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovi 7–5, 1–6, 6–4 to win the second.

It was the 20-year-old American’s second WTA Tour crown, as she also confidently enters the opening Grand Slam of the year.

Former world number one Halep hasn’t dropped any silverware since Rome in September 2020, largely due to a calf tear that plagued her mid-season in 2021 and saw her break out of the top 20 for the first time since 2013 .

But she has recovered and has proved to be very good for 32nd-ranked Kudermetova to win her 23rd career title.

“Let’s keep winning because I love the feeling,” said 20th-ranked Halep, who made it to the final of the 2018 Australian Open after losing to Caroline Wozniacki.

“The body is great. I feel good. I had five tough matches, and my body is good. I don’t feel so tired.

“Physically I am in the right place. Confidence is building. I think I have the game to win matches.”

She had a shaky start and was broken in her second serve game, but quickly settled in the next game to draw errors from the Russian and break straight back.

Halep took full responsibility to win the next four games and took possession of the set in 34 minutes.

But, as in the first set, she was again broken early by Kudarmetova, who received a walkover in the semi-finals after top seed Naomi Osaka suffered an abdominal injury.

Once again, the Romanian kept him calm to break back for 2-2, then broke again for 5-3, happily pumping his fist before serving for a comfortable win.

good headspace

Earlier, unseeded world No. 78 Anisimova overcame a mid-match slump and treated her left foot to turn down Sasnovich for her second WTA Tour crown.

Her previous one came in Bogota in 2019 as a 17-year-old, the youngest American to win a title since Serena Williams at Indian Wells in 1999.

“I am in such good headspace now after an incredibly difficult year,” said Anisimova, who missed the Australian swing last year after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“It’s great to start the year in a good place and win a title, I honestly couldn’t ask for more.

“Hopefully I have a good season and I’m really looking forward to playing at the Australian Open.”

publicized

A win seemed unlikely for the 2019 French Open semifinalist, when she lost the second set and went down 3-0 in the third after being treated for a left upper leg problem.

But she struggled against the odds to deny qualifier Sasnovi her first title.

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