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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, August 17, 2021

 
Simona Halep

Simona Halep defeated Magda Linette 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory in her Cincinnati return to post her first victory since Madrid last May.

Photo credit: Getty

Comebacks can be complicated.

Playing just her second match since May, Simona Halep accepted the challenge and conquered intricate issues—a rain delay, a leg strain that saw her complete the match with adhesive taping wrapping her right thigh and a tricky Magda Linette—with a convincing closing kick in her Cincinnati return.

Watch: Emotional Osaka Sheds Tears in Cincinnati

The 12th-seeded Halep defeated Linette 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory in her Cincinnati return. 

When Linette's final return sailed long, Halep pumped her fists in enthusiastic celebration of a challenging two hour, 10-minute triumph.

"Well, it means a lot. I'm really happy that I could win the match," Halep said. "It's always important to have victories when you come back from an injury. It was a tough injury for me. First time in my life when I had this kind of problem, and I didn't really know how to manage it.

"But I'm happy to be back. I'm happy to play pain-free, and I'm just trying to build my confidence back."




It was Halep's first win since she beat Zheng Saisai in the second round of Madrid last May. The former world No. 1 suffered a torn calf muscle in her Rome opener that sidelined her for three months. Halep returned to the Tour last week pushing Danielle Collins to three sets before bowing. 

Using the speed of the Cincinnati court to her advantage, Halep hammered 11 aces, served 62 percent and fought off 12 of 14 break points she faced.

Halep showed her familiar grit, quick court coverage despite the leg taping and sharp counterstrikes raising her record to 12-7 on the season with her 405th career victory.

Now occupying an unfamiliar ranking outside the Top 10, Halep rode her return game to a convincing close. The two-time Grand Slam champion won eight of 10 points played in Linette's opening service games of the decider charging out to a 5-0 lead third-set lead.




Three Western & Southern Open finalist Halep advanced to a second-round match against either red-hot Montreal champion Camila Giorgi or Jessica Pegula, whom Giorgi defeated in the semifinals en route to the National Bank Open final where she beat Karolina Pliskova.

"It's a massive challenge for me to face them," Giorgi said of her round two opponent. "They are with a lot of confidence, and they are playing great.

"But, you know, I don't have expectations. I just want to be fit tomorrow because today was a tough one, and as I didn't play much, the body struggles a little bit. But, you know, I played against big players in the past, so I have enough experience. We'll see if the game holds tomorrow and I can be as strong as I have been today."


 

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