Halep wins on return in Qatar


DOHA — World No. 2 Simona Halep won on her return to competitive action since losing the Australian Open final, beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets in the Qatar Open Wednesday.

Halep eased through 6-3, 6-0 against the Russian, in a second round match — she received a first round bye — but admitted afterward she was still anxious about an ankle injury which has stopped her from playing since Melbourne.

Also winning convincingly was the woman who defeated Halep in Melbourne, Caroline Wozniacki who blitzed Germany's Carina Witthoeft, 6-2, 6-0 in just 57 minutes.

But it was Halep's ankle which was receiving most attention afterward.

The Romanian said she would assess that injury match-by-match and admitted she would take the "best decision" for her health if the ankle worsened.

"Ankle is okay. The foot is still painful," she said afterward.

Halep faces Latvian Anastasija Sevastova Thursday and asked if she will definitely play, she responded: "For sure, yeah. And I will try to finish the match.

"I started already to talk too much about this injury, it's just a problem with my foot.

"The doctor said that nothing can happen like worse to break something.

"But still when I will feel stronger pain, I think I will just think — I will double think about it and I will take the best decision."

The injury also forced her out of Romania's Fed Cup tie with Canada last weekend.

Halep, who hit 13 winners, has the possibility of reclaiming the world's top ranking from Wozniacki this week if she reaches at least the quarterfinals and goes one round further than the Dane.

But Wozniacki carried on the great form which saw her lift her first Grand Slam title last month, not giving Witthoeft a chance, and hitting 18 winners.

Wozniacki also has her own reasons for doing well in Doha.

If she gets to the semifinal, she will become just the fourth player in history to pass £30 million in prize money.

Also through to the third round are world number 11, Britain's Johanna Konta and a resurgent Petra Kvitova.

Konta won 6-2, 6-2 against a former Qatar Open winner, Carla Suarez Navarro.

And Kvitova battled back from a set down to beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4. — AFP