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Halep powers to victory on return in Qatar

Simona Halep reacts after playing a point against Ekaterina Makarova as they compete in their singles match during the second round of the Qatar Open tennis competition in Doha on February 14, 2018. — AFP picSimona Halep reacts after playing a point against Ekaterina Makarova as they compete in their singles match during the second round of the Qatar Open tennis competition in Doha on February 14, 2018. — AFP picDOHA, Feb 14 — World number two Simona Halep won easily on her return to competitive action since losing the Australian Open final, beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the Qatar Open today.

Halep eased through 6-3, 6-0 against the Russian, in a second round match lasting just 71 minutes. She received a bye in the first round.

The Romanian raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set before Makarova, the world number 36, showed some defiance by breaking Halep’s serve and threatening a comeback.

Halep, who hit 13 winners, rallied and then stormed through the second set without losing a game.

Doha represents Halep’s return since last month’s heartbreaking loss in the Australian final as she has been nursing an ankle injury.

The injury forced her out of Romania’s Fed Cup tie with Canada last weekend.

The woman who beat her in Melbourne and also claimed Halep’s world number one ranking at the same time, Caroline Wozniacki, is on court later today.

Halep has the possibility of reclaiming the world’s top ranking this week if she reaches at least the quarter-finals and goes one round further than Wozniacki.

Also through to the third round is Petra Kvitova.

The Czech star battled back from a set down to beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4.

“I have no idea, first of all, how I turned it around. I felt pretty exhausted,” said double Wimbledon champion Kvitova.

“Not like physically but most like mentally.

“It’s pretty tiring all these matches. But you know, on the other hand, I’m very proud of myself that I won it.” — AFP

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