Simona Halep is back to winning-ways on grass at the LTA's Rothesay Classic Birmingham

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Simona Halep is back to winning-ways on grass at the LTA's Rothesay Classic Birmingham
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Simona Halep revealed she is still adapting to grass after beating Lesia Tsurenko in her first match on the surface in three years at the LTA’s Rothesay Classic in Birmingham.

Romanian Halep claimed the Wimbledon title in 2019, though covid saw the tournament cancelled in 2020 and a hamstring tear prevented her title defence in 2021.

The former world No.1 missed out on the chance to open Centre Court play as per tradition last year, though was satisfied with her level in a 6-1 6-4 win on her return to lawn tennis.

She said: “I was very disappointed last year because I was injured and I couldn’t do it. It was actually everything I wanted in that moment, to get to start the tournament on Centre Court, but it didn’t happen.

“It’s been three years since I played a grass match and it’s never easy to play on grass, but I’m really pleased with the way I played. I knew that she was going to be difficult, she can play good tennis grass, but I was focused and I’m happy with the victory.

“I arrived very late here on Saturday, so I only had two days of practice and today the match. I cannot say I am already used to it but I played OK today. I was playing better than expected so it’s a positive. Hopefully tomorrow with the doubles match I’ll get more used to it.

“Three years is a long time to have a break from a surface. I feel good on grass, in 2019 I felt the best, I felt like I’m connected to the court and I’m very comfortable on it. I always played good tennis on grass but 2019 was the best.

“I’m positive again that I can touch a very good level of play but I have to be patient, so I will be patient with myself and take it day by day. I still have two weeks until the big tournament, but this one is also important so I will do my best to actually try to win every match.”

The 31-year-old, who also won the French Open in 2018, is in action in Birmingham for the first time since a quarter-final loss to Kristina Mladenovic at the tournament in 2015.

Seeded second at the tournament this time around, she is undoubtedly one of the favourites for the title but faces an intriguing contest versus Britain’s Harriet Dart next.

Halep previously beat Dart 6-2 6-4 in the second round of the Australian Open two years ago - a match the Romanian admits she has little recollection of.

“I have such a bad memory. I saw her playing lately. It’s great, so it’s going to be difficult,” she commented.

“On grass it’s different, everything is different and she’s used to it. She’s from here, so it’s going to be a big challenge but I’m here just to play as good as possible and to do my best. It’s everything I ask.

“I feel good. I like the people, they are very nice to me, and I have a good vibe so I’m really happy to be here.

“Many people came to see the match which is super, super nice. I felt the energy, I felt that they enjoyed the match and that helps us to get pumped.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website.

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