‘Switch Ankles’ Trouble Halep on Way to Win, Bouchard Awaits

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In an Australian Open now devoid of Williams sisters and the last woman to win a Slam, women’s tennis desperately needed some big names to advance, and the tournament fates obliged in the second half of Round 1.

World #1 Simona Halep injured the very thing that’s plagued her for years–her ankle– but she managed to win 7-6(5), 6-1. Her opponent, Aussie teen wildcard Destanee Aiava, had 2 set points in the first before Halep took it in the breaker.

In the second set Halep rolled her left ankle dramatically, screaming in pain. She received treatment and went on to win the match but afterward said her troublesome ankles once again put her prospects in jeopardy. Fortunately for her, it was torn ligaments in the other ankle that held her back in 2017, so it’s not the exact same area of concern.

Halep referred to her ankles as “switch ankles,” presumably meaning that they’re always giving out. If she gets the go-ahead from her doctor, she’ll face Eugenie Bouchard in Round 2.

If ankles are the trouble spot for Halep, for Bouchard it’s her entire game. The former Australian Open semifinalist came into Melbourne not having won a match since August in New Haven, and having slipped to #112 in the world.  The Canadian got past Océane Dodin of France in two close sets 6-3, 7-6(5).

This brings up an intriguing matchup in round 2 between the banged-up Romanian blue-collar-type hard worker and the stylish Instagram beauty whose best game lately has been her selfie game.

Both are loaded with talent, however.

Speaking of talent and good looks, dangerously unseeded Maria Sharapova red-lined the grunt-meter in powering past Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-4. The 5-time Grand Slam Champion will next face #14 seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat her at the US Open’s round of 16 last season.

Other women’s stars to more quietly advance in straight sets were Grand Slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza, as well as Madison Keys, Johanna Konta, and Karolina Pliskova.

Petra Kvitova left the court in tears after an upset by German Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 4-6, 10-8.  Australian fans warmly applauded the Czech star, as she continues to recover physically and emotionally from a knife attack.

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