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Tennis-Halep storms past Kudermetova to claim Melbourne title

Randy Mancini 10 Jan 9
Tennis: US Open
FILE PHOTO: Sep 2, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Amanda Anisimova of the United States serves against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in a second round match on day four of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

January 9, 2022

(Reuters) -Former world number one Simona Halep stormed past Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets at the Melbourne Summer Set 1 final on Sunday to claim the title and give herself a massive boost of confidence heading into the Australian Open.

Halep, who was forced out of last year’s French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics by a calf issue, showed no signs of the problem as she beat Kudermetova 6-2 6-3 in one hour 14 minutes.

Kudermetova began the contest strongly, breaking Halep’s serve to take a 2-1 lead in the first set, but the two-times Grand Slam champion responded well, breaking right back in the next game and then twice more to clinch the first set 6-2.

The second set unfolded in similar fashion, with Kudermetova taking the lead and Halep rallying to level the set at 2-2. Halep broke a few games later to make it 5-3 and then held to love to win her 23rd career title.

“It’s really nice to come back here and play in front of you. Thank you for your support,” Halep said to the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, which cheered the Romanian on from start to finish. “You helped me to win.

“Well done Veronika for this week, I know you did not play your best, but it was a good match, and I wish you the best for the Australian Open, which is maybe more important.”

Earlier on Sunday, American Amanda Anisimova battled through injury to beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5 1-6 6-4 and claim her second WTA title in the Melbourne Summer Set 2 tournament being run concurrently.

Anisimova took the first set 7-5 after fighting back from a break down, but struggled in the second, as Sasnovich broke twice to take a 3-0 lead.

With the set at 4-1, Anisimova took a medical timeout for treatment on her left thigh, returning to the match with her leg heavily taped up.

Visibly hampered by her injury, Anisimova looked on the verge of defeat as she lost the second set and went 3-0 down in the third, but the American showed great resolve to fight back and break twice, before sealing the win with an emphatic ace.

“It’s good to start the year in a good place and winning a title, I honestly couldn’t ask for more,” Anisimova said.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Lincoln Feast.)