MELBOURNE, Australia– Simona Halep said she
dreaded to think how much money she owed her coach after victory over British
qualifier Harriet Dart in the Australian Open second round on Thursday.
The fourth seed pledged earlier this month to donate $200 to
Australia’s bushfire relief fund each time she gives her Australian coach
Darren Cahill a hard time during matches.
Halep cruised the first set 6-2 against Dart, but the second
set was not so easy, the Romanian kept at bay by the determined 164th-ranked
Two-time Grand Slam champion Halep slapped her thigh twice
after failing to put Dart away on third match point at Rod Laver Arena.
The former number one finally sealed victory at the fourth
attempt when the 23-year-old Londoner fired long, but not before aiming a few
choice words at Cahill.
“He’s counting this stuff so I am afraid to ask (how
much she owes),” the 28-year-old Halep joked, after the 6-2, 6-4 win.
Cahill famously told Halep that she was “a disgrace on
the court” at the WTA Finals in November after a poor first set.
Halep, winner at Wimbledon last year, plays Yulia Putintseva
of Ukraine or American 26th seed Danielle Collins in the third round in
Halep conceded that she should have wrapped the match up
“It was a little bit dangerous, I lost focus a bit at
the end,” she said. “I like to play under pressure, it is more fun
“But I prefer to finish the match when I can.”
After winning a match in Adelaide last week, Halep tweeted
that she would be donating $2,000 for berating Cahill “‘only’ 10 times
during tonight’s match”.
24-year-old had the measure of the veteran early on
then lost concentration and became agitated before refocusing to win 6-2, 6-4,
4-6, 7-5 on his favoured Melbourne Arena.
It set up a third-round clash with either Russian 16th seed
Karen Khachanov or Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, with the winner of that match on
course to meet world number one Rafael Nadal in round four.
“I definitely lost my way a little bit… but I decided
to refocus,” Kyrgios said of his mini-meltdown in the third set. “I
could have gone to a very dark place in the fourth set but I put it away.”
A seemingly more mature Kyrgios has spoken of how the bushfire crisis in his homeland has given him perspective and focus, and that he felt he was playing for the nation rather than just himself.
And with the roars of the crowd ringing in his ears, he
broke the Frenchman in the first game and consolidated by holding serve.
Kyrgios looked sharp and broke again for 5-2 then served out
the set, sending down five aces and, crucially, making only two unforced