Former world No.1 Simona Halep of Romania booked a spot in the Melbourne Summer Set 1 final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen here on Saturday.Halep will face Veronika Kudermetova of Russia in the final, after top seed Naomi Osaka of Japan withdrew from their semifinal due to an abdominal injury.
"I'm really happy that I can play the final for the first tournament of the year," Halep said after her win."I'm feeling good, and I'm happy with the way I played. I'm really happy with the way I bounced back," Halep, who struggled past Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in a three-set quarterfinal on January 7, told wtatennis.com."It's always tough, first tournament of the year, few matches played; tough matches. Yesterday was really tough, and today I felt like I played much better, I served much better, and that means physically I'm in a good spot."
Zheng, aged 19 and ranked No.126, has risen up the WTA ladder of late, having been ranked No.287 one year ago. She reached her first WTA singles quarterfinal and semifinal this week as a qualifier, beating former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva of Russia and former No.20 Ana Konjuh of Croatia along the way.Meanwhile, Halep is currently ranked No.20 after an injury-plagued 2021, which is the lowest she has been ranked at the start of a season since 2013, when she was No.47. But Halep has been going deep at events again since the end of last season. This is the third straight tournament where she has reached the semifinals or better.Halep's form continued as the two-time Grand Slam champion had enough to quell the challenge from Zheng and end the teenager's run after an hour and 24 minutes of play. Halep was never broken during the match and claimed two-thirds of points when returning Zheng's second serve.No.3 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia will face Halep in the final. Kudermetova was slated to face No.1 seed Osaka of Japan in the semifinal, but former world No.1 Osaka withdrew from their clash due to an abdominal injury.
Kudermetova is now into her third career WTA singles final. The world No.31 made her first WTA singles final one year ago in Abu Dhabi, then earned her first WTA singles title at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston in April.