Simona’s Back! Halep earns her first win since three-month injury layoff began

Simona Halep survived a rain delay, a “contracted” thigh muscle, and an upset-minded Magda Linette on Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Simona Halep à Cincinnati en 2021

Simona Halep pulled away from Poland’s Magda Linette on Tuesday in Cincinnati to snap a three-match losing streak and notch her first win since the week before she severely injured her left calf at Rome, in May. The Romanian, who was forced to miss Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympics while she slowly worked her way back to health, defeated Linette 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to set a second-round clash with either Jessica Pegula of the United States or Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Halep, a three-time runner-up at the Western & Southern Open, had to brave a rain delay to get the win over Linette, which improves her record to 12-7 on the season and 22-8 lifetime at Cincinnati.

“It was a strong match,” she said. “In my opinion, both of us played really well. Yeah, maybe the rain delay helped me a little bit to find again the energy. I was a little bit more stronger physically and mentally in the third set.”

A meaningful victory, and a pain-free one (mostly)

Halep’s injury came at the exact wrong time in the season for the Romanian. A former Roland-Garros champion, she was devastated to miss the chance to play in Paris. Furthermore, after targeting the Olympics as a major goal since she won Wimbledon in 2019, it was even tougher for Halep to miss the chance to represent her country in Tokyo as the injury lingered.

This week, the 29-year-old is just happy to find her game and to take a step on the road back to top form.

“It means a lot,” she said of the win. “I’m really happy that I could win the match. It’s always important to have victories when you come back from an injury. It was a tough injury for me. First time in my life when I had this kind of problem, and I didn’t really know how to manage it. But I’m happy to be back. I’m happy to play pain-free, and I’m just trying to build my confidence back.”

Another injury?

Halep’s victory was not without complication, she did experience pain in her right thigh area, and later told reporters that it was a “contracted muscle.”

“It was just a contracted muscle for the moment, and with the rain delay I worked a little bit with my physio and it was much better,” Halep said. “So now hopefully tomorrow I can be fit again to perform at my highest level.”

Halep elaborated on the specifics of the ailment, which left her with a heavily taped right thigh to finish the match, further.

“I didn’t really know what’s going on in that moment, but I asked the physio when she came, and she said it’s probably a broken muscle. So I was shocked, because I didn’t do much in that moment, so I didn’t know that it can be broken so easy. But it was maybe from previous practices, previous matches. So, yeah, I didn’t expect that at all. But, you know, you learn always something from this sport.?

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