'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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Gael Monfils advances to Australian Open fourth round without dropping a set

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Gael Monfils has reached the second week at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-3 win over Cristian Garin. 

 

Garin saved an early break point and took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break with an early mini-break in the opening set, but Monfils came back by winning five consecutive points to claim the tie-break 7-4. 

Monfils earned two early breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Garin pulled one break back at love in the fifth game for 1-4, but Monfils broke for the third time to close out the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the third set. Monfils broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Garin made three unforced errors. The Frenchman saved a break point in a 18-point game in the sixth game and held serve with his 17th ace and broke serve to close out the match with a forehand volley winner. 

The Frenchman has not dropped a set so far this week and recorded five sets at 6-1 or better this week. Earlier this year he won the Adelaide International 1 title.

“It was a tough match, the conditions were different today. It was hot. It was quicker. I felt that I needed to adapt the game plan a little bit. He was playing well. He was playing well. I had to battle  and was very lucky and fortunate to win this breaker in the first set, and I just think I was solid enough to win in straight sets”, said Monfils. 

Monfils will be aiming to reach his 10th Grand Slam quarter final against Miomir Kecmanovic, who beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-5. 

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the second week in Melbourne after a four-set win over Sebastian Korda

 

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in their first head-to-head match after 3 hours and 27 minutes to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne for the third time in his career after achieving this feat in 2018 and 2019. 

Carreno Busta will take on Matteo Berrettini, who beat reigning Next Gen ATP champion Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 2-6 7-6 (10-5). 

Carreno Busta earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Korda broke straight back on his third break point in the ninth game. Carreno Busta broke again on his eighth set point to seal the first set 6-4. 

The Spanish player hit 18 winners to just 8 unforced errors and got the crucial break in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. 

Korda came back from 3-5 down to win a tight tie-break 8-6 in the third set. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the fourth set. Carreno Busta earned two breaks in the fifth and eighth games to close out the fourth set when Korda hit a forehand wide. 

Carreno Busta reached the US Open semifinals twice in 2017 and 2020 and won two ATP Tour titles in Hamburg and Marbella in 2021. 

Korda was aiming to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the third time after achieving this feat at Roland Garros in 2020 and Wimbledon in 2021. 

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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