Wimbledon champion Halep fights in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI: Simona Halep defended himself from a set to defeat Russia Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in it Cincinnati opening Wednesday.

Wimbledon champion Halep, seeded fourth, got a late break in the penultimate game of the final set to reach the third round after two hours of action.

The Romanian has finished runner-up in Cincinnati three times, last reaching the final a year ago against Kiki Bertens.

In the next round, the 27-year-old, who retired injured from her Toronto quarterfinals against the Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova last week, he will face Madison Keys of the United States or Russia Daria Kasatkina .

It was a very, very difficult game, Halep said. She played well, hitting the ball very hard.

Mentally, it was difficult to return for me at the start after playing injured last week.

But I had no pain, which is good. It took time to get a beat and then do something on the court.

She climbed a break in the third set, before letting the advantage slip, only for Alexandrova, who ranks 43rd, to serve two consecutive double fouls and stay 5-4 behind.

Halep completed his counterattack in a second game point one game later.

After the first set, I felt I could play aggressively, he added. I also changed the tactics.

I struggled and didn't give up. I wanted to run for each ball, I felt very good.

The ninth seed, Elina Svitolina, a semifinalist four years ago, beat the Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1.

In the men's draw, Kei Nishikori lost to his Japanese teammate Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

Sixth seed Nishikori has still never advanced beyond the third round in Cincinnati.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who finished Andy Murray's return singles tournament in the first round, saw Argentina's Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).

Australian Alex de Minaur defeated American Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to establish a tie in the third round with Nishioka.

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