Halep survives seesaw battle with Hercog

No.1 seed Simona Halep was made to fight in a marathon victory over Polona Hercog in the first round of the Prague Open, clinching a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6(3) triumph on her seventh match point after two hours and 31 minutes.

It was the world No.2’s first WTA singles match for 173 days, her last being her three-set victory in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I knew it was going to be difficult,” said Halep afterwards, referring to her rivalry with Hercog, against whom she played two marathons last year – a 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-2 win in Miami and a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win in Eastbourne. “All our matches were very tough and very long,” recalled Halep. “She knows me pretty well, we played in juniors. She changes the rhythm, she plays dropshots, a little bit softer then harder, so it was tougher for me to be in the point.”

“I didn’t get upset, which I’m very proud of!” laughed Halep about the dramatic close to the match. “I just fought, I knew that if I had those chances I would have another one.”

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Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis / WTA