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HALEP WINS IN BIRMINGHAM DEBUT

2015-6-17


BIRMINGHAM, England - Simona Halep was a winner in her first ever match at the Aegon Classic Birmingham, pulling out a tight first set then pulling away to beat British wildcard Naomi Broady.

The No.1-seeded Halep had a hard time breaking through the Broady serve early on, but from 3-4 in the first set she reeled off six games in a row - which included three breaks in a row - to build a 6-4, 3-0 lead, and she never let Broady back into the match, eventually closing it out by a 6-4, 6-2 scoreline.

While Broady's numbers on the match were big - 20 winners to 24 unforced errors - Halep's were more conservative yet much tidier, the World No.3 hitting 14 winners to a measly eight unforced errors.

"I had a really tough opponent today. She played really well and her first serve is very big - it's not easy to return her serve," Halep said. "The first set was really tough, and I can say I was a little bit lucky to get the break in the end, but overall I'm happy how I did and that I could win this match today.

"It's the first tournament of the year for me on grass, and it's not easy to adapt my game on grass, but last year I had good results on it and I come here with confidence. I believe I have my chances."

Halep has a wealth of experience on grass - she's played 's-Hertogenbosch and Wimbledon four times each. How did the Romanian feel about playing at the Aegon Classic Birmingham for the first time?

"It's really nice here. The club is really big, and the courts are really nice. I really like the people here too, and I even had some Romanian fans here today - it's a pleasure to play for the fans here."

Halep is now through to the third round and will play her next match on Thursday against either No.16 seed Caroline Garcia or Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova. Koukalova won Monday; Garcia saved two match points down 6-5 third set to beat German qualifier Tatjana Maria on Tuesday, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(6).

The only other second round match of the day saw WTA Rising Star Katerina Siniakova upset No.7 seed Andrea Petkovic, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4). The first two sets lasted 74 minutes, the third set alone 76.

That wasn't the only upset of the day - Daniela Hantuchova won her first round match against No.14 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, 4-6, 7-6(10), 6-4, saving a match point down 8-7 in the second set tie-break.

All the other seeds won: No.10 seed Barbora Strycova beat Monica Niculescu, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; No.12 seed Victoria Azarenka edged Varvara Lepchenko, 7-6(7), 6-4; No.13 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Karin Knapp, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-2; and No.15 seed Jelena Jankovic beat Tereza Smitkova, 6-4, 6-4.



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