Halep downed by Kuznetsova after solid Sydney semi workout

Published 01/15/2016, 3:37 AM EST
Svetlana Kuznetsova


SYDNEY (Reuters) – World number two Simona Halep gave her injured left leg a good workout but bowed out of the Sydney International in the semi-finals after a hard-fought 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3 loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova on Friday.

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Kuznetsova will play Costa Rican qualifier Monica Puig for the title later on Friday as organisers of the Australian Open warm-up look to catch up after Thursday’s violent storm severely disrupted the event.

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia reacts during her womens’ singles semi final against Simona Halep of Romania at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Halep, who on Friday was drawn to play a qualifier in the season’s opening grand slam, came into the tournament with fitness concerns after pulling out of last week’s Brisbane International due to a long-term Achilles injury.

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The Romanian’s match against former French and U.S Open champion Kuznetsova was a thorough test of her fitness before she decamps to Melbourne Park and she played a full part in a tight, two hour 45-minute contest.

Simona Halep of Romania reacts during her women’ singles semi final loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The match started on Thursday evening but Halep was unable to convert her 5-4 overnight lead into a 1-0 advantage when it resumed in largely dry but blustery conditions on Friday.

Kuznetsova won the opening set on a tiebreak but Halep broke the 30-year-old’s first service game in the second and evened up the contest after 51 minutes when the Russian netted a return.

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia serves to Simona Halep of Romania during their womens’ singles semi final at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The deciding set was again a tight affair studded with quality rallies which Kuznetsova won only after she had saved two break points while serving for the match.

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Puig continued her fairytale run at Olympic Park when she converted a 4-0 15-0 overnight lead to win the first set 6-0 and Swiss Belinda Bencic decided she could no longer continue.

Simona Halep of Romania reacts during her womens’ singles semi final against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“I retired today because I was throwing up all morning and feeling sick,” Bencic, the 12th seed at the Australian Open, said in a message to organisers.

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“In respect of Monica, I wanted to go to court to at least try.”

(By Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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