Simona Halep beat the weather to keep her fledgling comeback from a calf injury on track with the three-time finalist reaching the second round on Tuesday at the Cincinnati Masters.
Halep, seeded 12th after once standing atop the WTA rankings, defeated Pole Magda Linette 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, benefitting from a rain interruption which marked the start of a day of disruption.
“It was a strong match. In my opinion, both of us played really well,” the 29-year-old said.
“Maybe the rain delay helped me a little bit to find energy. I was a little bit stronger physically and mentally in the third set.”
Halep was injured last May in Rome and Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Her comeback match a week ago in Canada ended in the first round, but the progress was unmistakable in Cincinnati.
“It means a lot, I’m really happy to win. It’s always important to have victories when you come back from an injury,” the winner said.
“This was the first time in my life that I’ve had this kind of problem, and I didn’t really know how to manage it
“But I’m happy to be back, happy to play pain-free. I’m just trying to build my confidence back.”
Halep lost Cincinnati finals 2015, 2017 and 2018.
But she is putting no pressure on herself this week. “The main goal is just to be healthy and to play as much as possible, because I need the matches.
“Even if I practice a lot at home it’s not the same. To build confidence, I have to keep playing matches. Hopefully I can win a few more.”
Johanna Konta lost out when she went down 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 loss to Czech Karolina Muchova
The Brit achieved a semi-final in 2020 when the Cincy event was played in isolation in New York due to COVID-19.
Main photo:- Simona Halep limped out of Rome