Halep storms past Kudermetova to clinch Melbourne Summer Set title

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Former world number one and No. 2 seed Simona Halep clinched the Melbourne Summer Set 1 women’s singles title after beating No 3 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 in the final, here on Sunday.

It was the 23rd career WTA singles title for Halep, who struggled with her calf and knee injuries in 2021 and missed many important tournaments.

The 30-year old Halep started slowly in both sets. She double-faulted to go down 2-1 in the first, and again to pave the way to a loss of serve in the first game of the second.

But Kudermetova was unable to take advantage either time. The World No 31 committed 27 unforced errors over the course of the match, three of which immediately handed the first-set break back. Halep needed further encouragement to settle, and did not permit Kudermetova to even reach a game point for the remainder of the set.

Kudermetova held three break points to take a 3-0 double-break lead in the second set, but Halep saved the first two with service winners. A backhand wide wasted the third for Kudermetova, who then netted an easy putaway to allow Halep to hold.

Once again, it was the two-time Grand Slam champion who was able to seize momentum. Halep rattled off five of the last six games and converted her first championship point as Kudermetova sent another backhand wide.

“The body is great, I feel good. I had a tough five matches, and my body is good. I don’t feel that tired. Physically I’m in the right place. Confidence is growing. I feel confident. I feel that I have the game to win matches,” said Halep after her win.

“I’m not that scared when I lose serve because I often lose the serve, but I am confident in my return. I’m not getting scared there. I didn’t even think that I lost the serve, I just focused on the return. I just focused on every game I played. I was very positive,” she added.

Meanwhile, No. 2 seeds Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula captured their first doubles title as a team after defeating the unseeded Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

Muhammad and Pegula played one ITF tournament together in 2012, but have only been a semi-regular partnership since reaching the 2020 Roland Garros quarterfinals. The Americans only dropped one set in Melbourne, in their 6-3, 6-7(2), 10-6 semi-final defeat of No. 3 seeds Viktoria Kuzmova and Ver Zvonareva.

The title is Muhammad’s seventh at WTA level with six different partners and preserves the 30-year-old’s unbeaten record in WTA finals.

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