HALEP BACK ON THE WINNERS' LIST IN MELBOURNE


Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has begun her 2022 campaign on a great note by winning the Melbourne Summer Set 1.


The Romanian was at her clinical best as she powered her way to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Russian World No. 31 Veronika Kudermetova in an hour and 14 minutes.


The victory means that Halep receives a 23rd tour-level trophy to add to her collection, while it’s her first since winning the Internazionali BNL D’Italia in September 2020.


It caps off a solid tournament for the former World No. 2 who only dropped a singular set on her way to the title.


To win the tournament and play in the manner she did will be especially pleasing for the Romanian given a lacklustre 2021.


Halep dealt with calf and knee injuries in 2021 that impacted on her form and availability. She also failed to win a tournament in a calendar year for the first time since 2013.


The World No. 20 was predictably pleased with her efforts in winning a tournament so early in the new year.


“It's great to win a tournament at the beginning of the year. After a tough year, it's always nice to have a trophy in my hands,” Halep said in her press conference.


“Yeah, we are all happy, and I'm very pleased with the way I played. I'm very pleased with the way I've been on court. It was a beautiful week.”


Halep showed she was up for the fight on Rod Laver Arena, recovering from an early break down in both sets to pick apart her Russian opponent. Kudermetova was her own worst enemy at times, hitting 27 unforced errors for the match - with some coming at integral moments.


Speaking after her match, Halep was feeling optimistic about the 2022 season and is confident that her injury troubles are behind her.


“The body is great. I feel good. I had a tough five matches, and my body is good. I don't feel that tired,” Halep said.


“Physically I'm in the right place. Confidence is growing. I feel confident. I feel that I have the game to win matches.

“Of course it's a small tournament, but I played with tough opponents, so it gives me confidence for what is coming.”


Halep will now rest up in preparation for the Australian Open as she isn’t taking paet in either the Sydney Classic or the Adelaide International 2.