‘I enjoy the freedom’ – Simona Halep secures victory in first match without a coach
Former world number one Simona Halep is through to the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after ousting Alison Riske to win her first match without a coach.
The Romanian defeated the American 6-2, 6-4 at the WTA 500 event in a little over 70 minutes on court.
Halep is playing her first tournament without coach after announcing her split from Adrian Marcu and Daniel Dobre, as well as her desire to “take responsibility, to strengthen as a person, and experiment.”
“It’s pretty special to play here again,” she said in her post-match interview.
“I have great memories winning this tournament twice, it makes it very special.”
Halep won in Dubai for the first time in 2015, defeating Karolina Pliskova in the final.
She later claimed a second title there in 2020, this time downing Elena Rybakina in the championship match.
When asked about her feelings of winning a first match without a coach in her box, Halep responded level-headedly.
“It’s only the first match so we will see in the future,” she said.
“But, I can say I enjoy the freedom and I’m looking forward to just focusing on my job, that’s all.”
Halep should face a tough test in her next encounter as she faces either compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse or, more likely, world number five Paula Badosa in the second round.
If she were to face Badosa, it would be a first WTA meeting between the pair.
Both women are already title winners in 2022, with Halep winning the WTA 250 Melbourne Summer Series 1 and Badosa clinching the WTA 500 Sydney Tennis Classic, both in January.
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