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No fitness worries for Halep


No fitness worries for Halep

World number two Simona Halep allayed any fitness concerns as she made it through to the second round of the 2021 Australian Open after breezing to a 6-2 6-1 win over local wildcard Lizette Cabrera in Melbourne.

Halep went into the first Grand Slam of the season carrying doubts over a back injury and had lost in straight sets to Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Gippsland Trophy last week.

But the 29-year-old barely put a foot wrong against Australian Cabrera, who was taking on a player ranked inside the world's top ten for the first time in her career.

Halep, who reached the final of the Australian Open in 2018, faces another Australian in Ajla Tomljanovic in the next round.

Speaking after her victory, Halep said: "It feels great to be back here in Melbourne and playing the Australian Open. I have great memories and it is always a pleasure to come back.

"Today was a good day. It was really tough to start the tournament after so long and when you play your opponent is always difficult.

"In Adelaide I played a match against Ash [Barty] and it was really good. Then I came here and played a few matches. My body is fit."

Elsewhere, third seed Naomi Osaka saw off Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Serena Williams began her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam by taking only 56 minutes to bring down Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1.

And Siegemund's fellow German Angelique Kerber, who won the Australian Open five years ago, became the first seeded casualty at the major, losing 6-0 6-4 to American Bernarda Pera.

Simona Halep is 14/1 to win the 2021 Australian Open, with Serena Williams 17/2.

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