Melbourne, Australia, 5 January 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Melbourne Summer Set WTA 250 #1

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has stopped the resurgent run of Australian qualifier Destanee Aiava at the Melbourne Summer Set.

The world No.20 scored a 6-4 6-2 win against 21-year-old Aiava at Melbourne Park this evening.

Halep looked comfortable at Rod Laver Arena, where she contested the Australian Open 2018 final, but was tested in an entertaining first-round encounter.

Facing a top 20-ranked opponent for the first time in more than two years, Aiava was undaunted. The Melbourne local came out firing, using her powerful groundstrokes to dictate play early.

But 30-year-old Romanian’s experience proved telling, calmly working her way into the match and heaping the pressure on her world No.316-ranked opponent with her consistency and exceptional court coverage.

Aiava led 4-3 in the opening set, before second-seeded Halep swooped to win five consecutive games and take control of the match.

Halep conceded only three points on her service games in the second set, helping her seal victory after 78 minutes on court.

Aiava now turns her attention to the doubles competition, where she is partnering fellow Australian Lizette Cabrera.

Cabrera’s singles campaign ended earlier today, with Russian Anastasia Potapova triumphing in a three-set battle with the 24-year-old Australian wildcard.

World No.69-ranked Potapova, a 20-year-old who was once the world’s top-ranked junior, had to dig deep to record a 5-7 6-2 6-2 victory against a gallant Cabrera.

It proved a challenging day for Australian hopes, with 22-year-old wildcard Seone Mendez also exiting in the opening round.

Dutch qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove eliminated her second Australian opponent in as many days, posting a 6-3 6-4 win against Mendez. It follows the 30-year-old’s victory against Kimberly Birrell in the final qualifying round yesterday.

Melbourne Summer Set WTA 250 #1

Women’s singles, first round
[2] Simona Halep (ROU) d [Q] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) d [WC] Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2
[Q] Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove (NED) d [WC] Seone Mendez (AUS) 6-3 6-4

Women’s doubles, first round
Sara Errani (ITA)/Jasmine Paolini (ITA) d [WC] Gabriella Da Silva-Fick (AUS)/Olivia Tjandramulia (AUS) 6-4 6-2

Women’s doubles, first round
[4] Ellen Perez (AUS)/Greet Minnen (BEL) v [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS)/Lizette Cabrera (AUS)

Melbourne Summer Set tickets are on sale, with prices beginning at $19. Kids can attend for free.

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