Halep back on track after Australian exit

Simona Halep bounced back from her early exit at the Australian Open with victory over Ana Konjuh at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Wednesday.

The Romanian advanced to the quarter-finals courtesy of a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory – an important result considering her early season struggles, which included early losses in Shenzhen and Melbourne as she seemed to be hampered by a knee injury suffered last year.

"I didn't feel the pain today," she said after the match. "I'm really happy about that. I still want to wait for a few more matches to see how I feel. But now I'm feeling well."

Konjuh recently reached her first WTA final at the ASB Classic, and would have been hopeful of an upset.

The players exchanged two early breaks, although Halep was able to find a third break at 4-5 to close out the first set.

Konjuh opened up an early 3-1 lead in the second set, but Halep was able to hit back and regain her lost break, and though Konjuh saved four match points to force a deciding tie-break, Halep was able to win it comfortably to secure the victory.

"I think it was a good match for me. I played much better than three weeks ago in Australia. I feel better, more confident. I expected a tough match, because she has strong shots. I just tried to play my game and I think I did it pretty well finishing the match in two sets."

Halep moves on to face local wildcard Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who upset eight seed Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-4.

"I really wish to win as much as I can here and play well at this tournament. But it's only one match and it's too far to think about something else. I just want to take it day by day, match by match. Of course, I want to win and get to the finals, but it's not easy. I have just to rebuild my confidence."

Also advancing on the day were third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-3, and fifth seed Elena Vesnina, who was a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Ekaterina Makarova.