By Rozanna Latiff
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Simona Halep overcame a wrist injury scare and a fiery opponent to prevail 7-6(5) 6-1 over big-hitting American Jennifer Brady in a tense first-round encounter at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Romanian fourth seed required a medical timeout after taking a nasty fall on her wrist late in the first set, but told reporters later that there was nothing to worry about.
“A little bit sore, but nothing dangerous at this moment,” Halep said.
The fall was reminiscent of Halep’s opening match at the 2018 Open, where she rolled her ankle ahead of a sensational run to that year’s final before losing to eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki.
“I don’t know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it’s a good sign. Let’s hope for that,” Halep joked.
Brady, who beat world number one Ashleigh Barty in Brisbane earlier this month, proved to be a tricky opponent whose punishing forehands saw Halep’s serve broken in the very first game of the match at Margaret Court Arena.
The opening set saw a series of brutal rallies between the pair, with Halep having to fight from a break down twice and save three set points before finally edging out Brady in a tense tie-breaker.
The second set proved much easier as Halep found rhythm on her serve and began playing more aggressively.
She broke the American three times in the set en route to victory and will face British qualifier Harriet Dart in the second round.
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one, said the match was a good test of her physical fitness.
“Yeah, I felt great down there. I didn’t feel that I’m getting tired, which is a good sign,” she said.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson)