Fitness and playable Simona Halep kicked off their bid to win their first title at the Australian Open with an easy win over local substitute Lisette Cabrera on Monday, announcing that they had adapted to the “much faster” stadiums at Melbourne Park.
The second seed needed a tie and suffered a lower back injury in the Gippsland Trophy warm-up match, but moved easily in the 6-2 6-1 match in 59 minutes at the Road Laver Arena.
“I feel good, my body is fit,” said the Romanian player, who scored 14 winners.
“It feels great to be back in Melbourne.”
Halep, whose seven-year streak in the top ten was the longest active streak among the women, broke the serve in the opening match and then defeated 23-year-old Cabrera, who was unable to win a home match at Peace in four attempts.
The 2018 French Open champion generally preferred slow surfaces with high recoil, but insisted that she was satisfied with the speed of the pitches which had been a point of discussion among players in the run-up to the tournament.
“It’s much faster, but I got used to it because I’ve been here for 10 days,” she said.
“I feel good here on the field even if it’s fast.”
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion, will once again dash Australia’s hopes when she meets Agla Tomljanovic in the second round on Wednesday.
“She’s a good player, but I’ll just focus on myself. It’s going to be a tough fight,” she said of the confrontation with the world number 69.
Halep, 29, is seeking her first victory in Melbourne Park after failing to make it to Caroline Wozniacki in 2018.
She was stunned last year after losing two straight sets to Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.
TL / MP / TH / JFX
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