Fourth seed Simona Halep survived an injury scare and a dangerous opponent as she defeated Jennifer Brady 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the first round of the Australian Open. At 5-5, Halep appeared to hurt her wrist after a nasty fall, was broken, but regrouped to force a tiebreaker and ran away with the second set. The 2018 finalist will face British qualifier Harriet Dart in the second round.
Halep survives injury scare, tough opponent to post win
Brady was off the mark in the opening game, breaking behind a thundering forehand. The American emphatically consolidated her break with an ace for a 2-0 lead. Pushed to deuce in the fourth game, Brady took the next two points, closing out the game with a forehand volley for a 3-1 lead.
At 4-3, 30-30, Halep threw up an exquisite lob that landed just inside to create a break chance. She duly took it when the world number 50 yanked a backhand wide. In the 11th game, Halep was running to retrieve a shot when she landed hard on the court, injuring her wrist. Two points later, Brady was again ahead after the Romanian floated a forehand wide.
Undaunted, Halep saved three set points to break back and force a tiebreaker. The sixth proved crucial as the Brady forehand, which was working so well early on, let her down and the world number four was ahead 4-2. Brady rallied to make it 4-4, but again her forehand betrayed her, this time on the final two points of the set.
Deflated by losing a set she should have won, the American double-faulted to create a break chance for Halep and the Romanian struck a forehand winner past the net-rushing Brady to seize the advantage right away in the second set. An exchange of holds made it 2-1 to the fourth seed, but that was the last game Brady would win.
A wayward forehand made it 4-1 Halep and after running through her service game, the 2018 finalist stood a game from the second round and when Brady double-faulted again, the Romanian held three match points. Saving the first two with a forehand winner and ace, the world number was powerless to a final Halep backhand, putting the finishing touches on a workmanlike victory.