Halep survives scare at Miami Open; Pliskova, Kerber advance

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Miami, March 23 (IANS) Romanian world No. 1 and top seed Simona Halep had to battle for just over two hours but finally pulled out a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin to advance to the third round of the Miami Open.

A 6-foot (1.83-meter) tall, clean ball-striker in the mould of Maria Sharapova, Dodin won the first set on the strength of her big first serve and flat and deep ground strokes off both sides, a performance that belied her No. 98 ranking on Thursday, reports Efe.

In the second set, the Romanian used her defensive prowess and consistency to jump out to an early lead but then allowed Dodin to get back on serve at 4-3 when she sailed a forehand over the baseline on break point.

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The world No. 1 recovered though to take the final two games of the set, sending the match to a decider with an ace on set point.

Neither player was able to control her service games in the third set, with Dodin taking service-break leads at 3-1 and 4-2 only to get broken back each time.

The Frenchwoman finally held serve in the ninth game, in which she won the point of the match on a brutal baseline rally in which both players retrieved shots sideline to sideline.

But Halep’s superior fitness started to show and was clearly evident as she won the last three games of the match to book a third-round match-up against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska.

In other action on Thursday involving high-ranked women’s singles players, fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova won a close battle over Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 7-5 and 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber routed Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 6-2, 6-2.

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–IANS

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