Tennis: Simona Halep braves falls, sore wrist to make winning Australian Open start

Simona Halep celebrates after winning her first round match against Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 21, 2020.
Simona Halep celebrates after winning her first round match against Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan 21, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep survived a couple of tumbles and a sore wrist before surging into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday.

The Romanian fourth seed recovered from a poor start to beat the big-hitting American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 and launch her title bid.

The 2018 Roland Garros and 2019 Wimbledon champion faces British qualifier Harriet Dart next in Melbourne.

Halep had her serve broken in the first game by the 49th-ranked Brady, who defeated world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the build-up to the year's first Grand Slam.

Halep, the 2018 runner-up, was uncharacteristically flustered, taking a couple of falls, tossing her racket and complaining to her coach.

The 28-year-old appeared to hurt her right wrist in one fall in the first set, and had heavy strapped by a medic.

"A little bit sore but nothing dangerous at this moment," the former world No. 1 said afterwards. "So I will see tomorrow morning after I wake up."

With both players relentlessly pummelling from the baseline, Halep finally put a punishing first set away in 69 tough minutes, having saved three set points to force the tie-break.

The second set was far more straightforward as the 24-year-old Brady appeared to run out of gas and Halep made light of her painful wrist.