'It's Great To Be Back' - Simona Halep Cruises Through Australian Open Opener - UBITENNIS
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‘It’s Great To Be Back’ – Simona Halep Cruises Through Australian Open Opener

The world No.2 has insisted that she is fully health following her latest win at Melbourne Park.

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Second seed Simona Halep produced a clinical display in her opening match at the Australian Open by sweeping aside wild card Lizette Cabrera.

 

The encounter was mainly one-way traffic for the Romanian who raced to a 6-2, 6-1, victory on the Rod Laver Arena against a player who had previously never faced anybody inside the world’s top 10. Halep’s power proved too much for Cabrera as she fired 13 winners and won 70% of her first service points. Making it the 25th main draw match she has won in Melbourne.

Halep, who is yet to win the Australian Open title, encountered her only blip whilst closing out the match. Serving with a 6-2, 5-0, lead a series of loose shots saw the underdog work her way to two break points. Cabrera converted on her second thanks to a forehand error from Halep. Despite the break of serve, the world No.2 secured victory in the following game by converting her first match point at the expense of a mistake coming from across the court.

“It feels great to be back here in Melbourne and playing the Australian Open. I have great memories and it is always a pleasure to come back,” Halep said during her on-court interview.
“Today was a good day. It was really tough to start the tournament after so long and when you play your opponent is always difficult.”

Heading into the Grand Slam there have been some concerns over Halep’s fitness after she admitted to a slight ‘block’ in her back. Last week at the Gippsland Trophy the 29-year-old lost in straight sets to Ekaterina Alexandrova but has now brushed aside any concerns over her fitness.

“I feel good,” she stated. “In Adelaide I played a match against Ash (Barty) and it was really good. Then I came here (to Melbourne) and played a few matches. My body is fit.”

The next test comes in the shape of another Australian called Ajla Tomljanović who beat Misaki Doi in her opening match. Halep leads the world No.69 3-0 in their head-to-head but two of their previous meetings have gone the full distance.

“It is always difficult to play a big hitter because Tomljanović is hitting very strong. So I have to be strong on my legs, focus on myself and to give my best,” Halep previewed.

The latest victory is Halep’s 97th in a Grand Slam main draw.

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Kim Clijsters Handed Wildcards For Top American Tournaments

The four-time Grand Slam champion says she is ‘excited’ to be returning to the Tour.

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Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters isn’t giving up on her comeback to tennis anytime soon after confirming that she will play at the Miami Open later this month.

 

The Belgian has been awarded with a wildcard to play at the prestigious WTA 1000 event which is held at the Hard Rock Stadium. It will be the first tournament Clijsters has played since the US Open last year and the first time she has played in Miami since 2012. She is a two-time winner in Miami after triumphing in 2005 when she was unseeded in the draw, as well as 2010.

“The Miami Open was always a favorite stop on tour for me,” said Clijsters. “I have great memories and also had great results there. I’m excited to be coming back to Miami.”

Clijsters is currently in the process of her second comeback to the Tour. She first retired from the sport in May 2007 before returning two years later. She would continue playing for another five years before calling it quits at the 2012 US Open following a lengthy battle with injuries. Last year she played in a total of three tournaments but lost her opening matches to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai, Johanna Konta in Monterrey and Ekaterina Alexandrova at the US Open.

James Blake, who is the tournament director of the Miami Open, has hailed the return of Clijsters to the tournament. Paying tribute to her both on and off the court.

“We are very excited to have Kim returning to Miami,” he said. “She is a tremendous player and an even better person. Plus, it’s not often you get the opportunity to see someone who has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame compete at an event of this level.”

After Miami, Clijsters will kick-off her clay court campaign in the country after receiving a pass to play at the Charleston Open which takes place the week after Miami. It will be the first time in her career she has played at the event which has been part of the women’s Tour for more than 30 years.

Clijsters has won 41 WTA titles so far in her career with the most recent occurring back in 2011 at the Australian Open. She has spent a total of 20 weeks as world No.1 which is a longer period than Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Jelena Jankovic.

The Miami Open will get underway on March 22nd.

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Andy Murray – “It’s Just Not Good Enough”

The three-time Grand Slam champion spoke to the media about his current form and plans for the coming weeks following his loss in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

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After falling to world number 8 Andrey Rublev in the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Andy Murray shed light on his current form on the Tour.

 

The former world No.1 fell 7-5, 6-2, to the Russian in what was only his second match on the ATP Tour this season. Murray missed the Australian Open at the start of the year after testing positive for COVID-19 and subsequently turned to the Challenger Tour. Against Rublev, the illustrated Brit illustrated glimmers of her usual grit but admits that there is still more work that needs to be done as he aims to return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. Below is a summary of the key quotes from Murray in his latest press conference :-

He started by answering what positives he could take from the match despite the loss.

“From the positive side I thought I moved well for the first hour or so. He (Rublev) is one of the bigger hitters on the tour and in the first set I felt like he wasn’t getting that many free points from the back of the court and he’s having to work hard to get the ball through me so I thought that was positive. I did some things quite well in the first set but when it mattered I didn’t play well.”

Murray would continue to add what he felt he did wrong and what was the main reason he lost to such a young talented player who in the second set basically dominated from start to finish.

“It’s just not good enough and your playing one of the best players in the world like in those moments they come up with something great to win those points it’s understandable and you expect that but I felt in the moment at the end of the first set that I blew it. The second set he was for sure much better than me no question about that, there are things like I’m not used to making those errors in those moments and I find it quite frustrating mentally and find myself looking back on those moments little bit too much which affected me a bit in the second set, I’m disappointed and felt like I should have won that first set”

He was then asked about his upcoming schedule and the fact there aren’t a lot of hard court tournaments left before the clay court swing.

“So I don’t play well on clay is that the suggestion”

He would continue his answer and say the following.

“I want to play as much as I can but baring in mind that I still have to be smart with the decisions about which tournaments I play and how many events in a row I play, the last time I played four weeks in a row and a lot of consecutive matches I picked up an issue and I need to be mindful of that but I wanna try and play. Next week, I will have off, I will go home now and then hopefully be able to play in Dubai and Miami and than see from there. There is the option to play the full clay court swing, there’s the option to drop down and play challengers to get more matches and build more robustness in my body, I kinda feel like I want to play at this level because I learned a lot from a match like tonight even though I lost.”

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Clara Tauson reaches her first WTA Tour quarter final in Lyon

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Former world junior number 1 and 2019 Australian Open Junior champion Clara Tauson advanced to her first WTA Tour quarter final with a 6-2 6-3 win over Timea Babos after 71 minutes at the Open 6ème Sens-Metropole in Lyon.

 

The 18-year-old Danish rising star came back from a break down in each set. Tauson converted her match point with an ace. 

Babos earned an immediate break to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set. Tauson reeled off six consecutive games with three breaks to win the opening set 6-2. 

Babos broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Tauson got back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Tauson reeled off three consecutive games from 3-3 with a break in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. 

Earlier this week Tauson beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 in the opening round. The Danish player beat a top 50 player for the second time in her career. She won the 2019 Australian Open Junior tournament beating Leylah Fernandez. Last year she upset Jennifer Brady (Australian Open finalist in 2021) at Roland Garros. 

“It’s only the second time I have played a top 50 player, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but we can say it’s gone well these two times. Going into these matches, I just try to play as free as I can and show what I can do. I actually called my dad after the match and he said: ‘What, did you win ? She has won so many matches indoors. I had hoped that I would be drawn to play either her or Fiona Ferro because they are two really good players. I definitely want to play Simona Halep. She is just a champion. She plays 100 percent every tournament she plays and no matter what the score, she is always there. I love watching Petra Kvitova play. I want to play like her”, said Tauson

Tauson set up a quarter final against Camila Giorgi, who came back from one set down to Nina Stojanovic 1-6 6-1 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes. 

Giorgi earned her second break of the third set in the seventh game but Stojanovic broke back to draw level to 5-5. The Italian player saved two match points at 5-6 15-40 to hold serve at deuce. Giorgi did not convert her first match point at 6-4 but converted her second chance at 7-5. 

Another former world junior number 1 Clara Burel overcame Alizé Cornet 6-1 1-6 6-3 to score the best win of her career by ranking. 

Burel went up a 4-0 lead with a double break in the third set. Cornet pulled the break back to 3-4. Burel converted her third break point on the fourth deuce to win the decider 6-3. 

Burel set up a match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a spot in the quarter final. 

Last year’s Palermo champion Fiona Ferro reached the quarter final after Tereza Martincova withdrew from the match while she was trailing 6-2 4-1. 

Viktorja Golubic rallied from one set down to beat Vera Lapko 5-7 6-4 6-3. 

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