Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates winning her first round match against Australia’s Lizette Cabrera REUTERS/Loren Elliott
A fit and firing Simona Halep started her bid for a first Australian Open title with an easy victory over Fil-Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera on Monday.
The number two seed required strapping and was hampered by a lower back injury in the warm-up Gippsland Trophy, but moved with ease in the 6-2, 6-1 romp in 59 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
“I feel good, my body is fit,” said the Romanian, who hit 14 winners. “It feels great to be back in Melbourne.”
Halep, whose seven-year streak in the top 10 is the longest active run among women, broke serve in the opening game and then overwhelmed 23-year-old Cabrera, who has been unable to win a match at her home Slam in four attempts.
Halep, 29, is seeking a maiden triumph at Melbourne Park having fallen short to Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 decider.
She was left stunned last year after a straight-sets loss to Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam winner, will once again be out to dash Australian hopes when she mets Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round on Wednesday.
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