Simona Halep survives date with Destanee Aiava in opening round : Australian Open 2018 - <b>Technical Lobby</b>

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Simona Halep survives date with Destanee Aiava in opening round : Australian Open 2018

 sports woman  Simona Halep

It was far from perfect and ideal but world number one Simona Halep avoided a big scare as she outlasted local teenager Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1 to reach the Australian Open second round.

The Australian Open has never been a happy hunting ground for Halep, who suffered successive first-round exits in 2016 and 2017.And the Romanian star was facing another early elimination at Melbourne Park when 17-year-old Aiava powered her way to a 5-2 lead and a pair of set points after chest discomfort had forced her off the court for treatment.

The 26-year-old turned her ankle reaching for a shot at the start of the second but returned with the joint strapped up to claim what was ultimately a comfortable victory. “It’s been a very tough match, she was playing really well, she’s hitting the ball very strong and it wasn’t easy to get a rhythm at the beginning,” Halep said.

Aiava, who qualified for the tournament through a wildcard playoff last month, showed why Australia is so excited about her emerging talent in a 73-minute opening set featuring six breaks of serve. Pounding huge groundstrokes from the back of the court, Aiava reminded Halep at least of the absent women’s defending champion.

 sports woman  Simona Halep

“She is very talented, she is powerful, and I think she is going to be very good,” the Romanian added. “She’s a little bit like Serena, she’s hitting the ball strong, she’s a powerful girl and for sure she will be good in the future.”The Australian broke for 5-2 after seven deuces in game seven when Halep, under all sorts of pressure, dumped a backhand into the net.

Aiava needed treatment on court for shortness of breath and then took a medical timeout for a further examination in the dressing room. On her return, she came within a whisker of claiming the set, only for Halep to wrest the two set points off her and then knock off the four of the next five games to force the tiebreak.Halep was not home and dry, though, and had just saved two break points to hold in her first service game of the second when she took a tumble on the blue Rod laver Arena court, requiring a medical timeout of her own. 

Halep, who was knocked out in the first round in four of her last six visits to Melbourne Park, will next test the ankle when she meets former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
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