Halep wins first grass-court match since 2019 Wimbledon final to reach second round in Birmingham

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Simona Halep won her first match on grass since 2019 as she cruised past Lesia Tsurenko to reach the second round of the Birmingham Classic on Monday.

Halep's last grass-court match was the impressive 6-2 6-2 defeat of Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

While Monday's triumph may not have been of comparable importance, the 6-1 6-4 win was a positive step in Halep's preparation for a return to SW19 later this month.

After saving three break points in the very first game, the former world number one rarely looked in trouble against her Ukrainian opponent, breaking Tsurenko's serve at the first opportunity.

She repeated the feat to go 5-1 up before serving to love to close out the set, though Tsurenko showed a bit more fight at the start of the second – only one of the first five service games was a hold.

Halep ultimately weathered the storm, however, taking her chance to go 5-4 up and once again served to love to wrap up the match.

Seeded second, Halep was the only seed in action on Monday and will meet home favourite Harriet Dart next, with the Brit impressively seeing off Camila Osorio – ranked 45 places better off – 6-2 6-0.

In Berlin, fourth and sixth seeds Karolina Pliskova and Daria Kasatkina secured their passage to the last 16.

Pliskova struggled initially against Kaia Kanepi but went on to produce two near-flawless sets to progress 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-0 – Kasatkina also came from behind, with an ankle injury to Anhelina Kalinina potentially aiding her 5-7 6-3 6-1 victory.

Bianca Andreescu was also among the winners in Berlin, with the Canadian beating Katerina Siniakova to claim only her second career success on grass.

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