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Osaka pulls out due to abdominal injury; Halep reaches Melbourne final

Playing her first event since the US Open, Osaka withdrew from her semi-final to send Veronika Kudermetova into the Melbourne Summer Set final

Japan's Naomi Osaka at the WTA 250 - Melbourne Summer Set Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the WTA 250 – Melbourne Summer Set Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

WTA Melbourne Summer Set 1 | Draws | Schedule

The highly anticipated clash between former world No 1s – Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka – will have to wait for some more time. While Halep advanced to the final of the WTA Melbourne Summer Set 1 with a straight-sets win over Zheng Qinwen on Saturday, Osaka pulled out of her semi-final against Veronika Kudermetova due to an abdominal injury

“My body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took” – Naomi Osaka

Osaka has a 1-4 record against Halep but the pair have not clashed since the 2018 Italian Open. The Japanese posted a message on social media even as Halep was playing her semi-final explaining the reason for her withdrawal.

“Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took. Thank you for all the love this past week ❤️ I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon!”.

The 24-year-old had been absent from the tour since the US Open and took a break from training as well after her tearful third-round exit in New York. In her first three matches this week, she appeared to be rediscovering her groove and getting better with every match.

Osaka defeated French veteran Alize Cornet in three sets in her first match, followed by straight set wins over Maryna Zanevska and former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic to reach the last four. Her withdrawal puts 31st ranked Veronika Kudermetova into the Melbourne final.

With three matches, Osaka would be happy to get some wins under her belt ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 17 and where she is the two-time defending champion.

Halep reaches 40th WTA final with win over Chinese teenager

Romania's Simona Halep at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia
Romania’s Simona Halep at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

In the first semi-final of the day, former world No 1 Simona Halep, whose 2021 season was also marred by injuries, defeated 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final.

The 30-year-old Romanian ended last year by reaching the Transylvania Open final at home and then reaching the semi-finals in Linz but dropped to No 20 in the rankings after a calf tear forced her to miss the French Open, Wimbledon and Olympics.

Halep, who will be competing in her 40th WTA Tour singles final, has a 2-0 lead in head-to-head over Kudermetova.

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