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Halep storms past Kudermetova in Melbourne to 23rd career title

Number 2 seed Simona Halep stormed past number 3 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 here on Sunday to win the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title
Number 2 seed Simona Halep stormed past number 3 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 here on Sunday to win the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title. Photo: WTA

Melbourne, Jan 9 (MNN) Number 2 seed Simona Halep stormed past number 3 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 here on Sunday to win the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title, her 23rd WTA singles crown of her career and first in Australia.

In 2021, calf and knee injuries significantly disrupted Halep’s season. The Romanian competed in 13 tournaments, and finished only nine of them.

Consequently, her streak of winning at least one title every year since 2013 was ended, and she also dipped out of the Top 20 for the first time since 2013.

Prior to this week, Halep last lifted a trophy at Rome 2020.

However, last year did see Halep claim her first two wins over Kudermetova, beating the Russian in straight sets in the Australian Open third round and the Moscow second round.

She made that three out of three in Melbourne, coming from an early break down in both sets to triumph in 1 hour and 14 minutes.

Halep improves to 23-18 in WTA finals overall; while Kudermetova, who claimed her maiden title in Charleston last April, falls to 1-2.

Halep started slowly in both sets; the former world number 1 double faulted to go down 2-1 in the first, and again to pave the way to a loss of serve in the first game of the second.

But Kudermetova was unable to take advantage either time. The world number 31 committed 27 unforced errors over the course of the match, three of which immediately handed the first-set break back.

Halep needed to further encouragement to settle, and did not permit Kudermetova to even reach game point for the remainder of the set.

Kudermetova held three break points to take a 3-0 double-break lead in the second set, but Halep saved the first two with service winners. A backhand wide wasted the third for Kudermetova, who then netted an easy putaway to allow Halep to hold.

Once again, it was the two-time Grand Slam champion who was able to seize momentum. Halep rattled off five of the last six games, and converted her first championship point as Kudermetova sent another backhand wide.

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