Down a set and a break, Halep bails herself out to win Cincy opener

Down a set and a break, Halep bails herself out to win Cincy opener

The two-time Grand Slam champion is bidding for her maiden Western & Southern Open title.

Simona Halep had her back against the wall but she found a way to battle past Ekaterina Alexandrova, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the second round of Cincinnati on Wednesday.

"I felt slowly [but] t I'm feeling good and I have no pain," said Halep. "I got the confidence game by game, even if she was leading me. I still thought that there is a chance to win, and I have just to fight."

Halep had retired from her Rogers Cup quarterfinal match against Marie Bouzkova with an Achilles injury in Toronto five days ago. A three-time finalist, she has yet to lift the Western & Southern Open trophy. In last year’s championship match against Kiki Bertens, she held a couple of match points before going down in three sets.

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Against Alexandrova, Halep struggled to find a rhythm, going down two breaks. Her troubles continued as she found herself down an early break in the second set. Slowly, she started to find her range, stringing together two games in a row for the first time to level the set. As the Romanian started to apply some pressure, Alexandrova’s first-serve percentage dipped to the 40s. 

Down 4-3 and 30-0 in the third set, the No. 4 seed stepped it up, winning the next 12 of the last 13 points to earn a spot in the third round. She awaits the winner of the match between No. 16-seeded Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina. Keys and Kasatkina are hoping to turn their respective seasons around, having struggled all year.

"Two very different styles. Keys is hitting really strong, the ball, and is playing flatter. A lot of power," said Halep. "Kasatkina is the other way. She has a lot of topspin. She moves the ball a little bit more on the court. So it's difficult and different plans for them. I will think about it a little bit later today after I will see against who I play."