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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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Halep survives first round scare


World number one Simona Halep battled through to the Australian Open second round yesterday with a come-from-behind win over Kaia Kanepi to stay in the tournament.

The Romanian had to dig deep against the woman who defeated her in last year's US Open first round, eventually winning 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-2 victory.

The French Open champion was a finalist at Melbourne Park last year and will be looking for a major improvement to go deep this year after such a shaky start against the world number 71.

"It is always difficult to play Kaia," said Halep, who raged in frustration at her support team at times before finally taking control of the match in the third set.

The 27-year-old top seed showed no sign of the back injury that ended her season prematurely last year, instead she simply struggled to cope with the Estonian's powerful groundstrokes.

Halep's horror show at Flushing Meadows would have been repeated if Kanepi had not undermined her own cause with a mammoth 62 unforced errors and five double faults.

She outgunned Halep with 40 winners to 25, underlining her opponent's recent struggles.

Halep came to Melbourne Park on a five-match losing streak, equaling the worst run of her career.

She hopes to make amends after losing an epic final to Caroline Wozniacki last year in a defeat she said "broke me a little bit" until she claimed her own maiden Slam at Roland Garros.*AFP


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