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Top-seeded Simona Halep makes 2nd round of Prague Open

PRAGUE (AP) — Top-seeded Simona Halep had to fight hard to advance to the second round of the Prague Open in beating unseeded Polana Hercog 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (3) on Tuesday.

It was the first competitive match for Halep since she won the Dubai Championships in February for her 20th career WTA title. Before the Wimbledon champion recovered from a foot injury she sustained in Dubai, the coronavirus pandemic forced a five-month break.

The Romanian dropped her serve six times and double-faulted eight times before prevailing in a tiebreaker. She will face next Czech wild card Barbora Krejcikova.

Second-seeded Petra Martic, who reached the semifinals in Palermo last week, overcame Varvara Gracheva 7-6 (2), 6-3 to face Kristyna Pliskova in the second round.

Third-seeded Elise Mertens recovered from a second set scare to beat Jasmine Paolini 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova was upset by Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-4, sixth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was knocked out by Arantxa Rus 7-5, 6-2 and Irina-Camelia Begu dispatched ninth-seeded Anastasia Sevastova 6-2, 6-2.

The second European tournament in the WTA’s restart amid the pandemic is following even stricter health protocols than the Palermo Open last week.

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