Former world number one Simona Halep reached the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday after an error-filled clash with Poland’s Magdalena Frech, which saw 11 breaks of serve. The 14th-seeded Romanian, who has returned to form, came into the Grand Slam full of confidence after her first title in 16 months at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament this month. But she struggled to find her rhythm against the 102nd-ranked Pole before winning 6-4, 6-3 at Margaret Court Arena to keep her dreams of a third major title alive.
“I found it so hard today, I wasn’t sure I could play good tennis,” she said.
“But in the end I won and that makes me very happy. Hopefully this week I can play better and better.”
Halep, runner-up in 2018 to Caroline Wozniacki and a semi-finalist two years later, is back after a cut-off season in 2021 when she struggled with calf and knee injuries.
And it was far from a convincing performance, with both players struggling to hold serve in the first set, with Frech breaking three times and Halep twice.
Ultimately, the Romanian was stronger in the exchanges and finally sealed the set by serving her with a trademark backhand down the line.
Neither player’s serve improved in the second set with Halep breaking immediately before Frech went on a three-match winning streak as the error count mounted.
Halep then made it five games in a row to secure victory and a second-round clash with either American qualifier Katie Volynets or Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.