Halep gets morale boosting win, disappointment for Kasatkina


Simona Halep put her failure at the Australian Open behind her with a hard-fought victory over Ana Konjuh to get her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy campaign off to a winning start.

The Romanian was a surprise first-round casualty at Melbourne Park as Shelby Rogers sent her crashing out in straight sets.

She struggled in Shenzhen prior to the grand slam but will hope she has turned a corner with her 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win in Russia on Wednesday.

Halep won 84 per cent of Konjuh's second serve points and said in the post-match on-court interview: "I was really happy I could win this match, it was really important to me after Australia.

"I feel fit, I feel ready to play and am enjoying my time in St Petersburg."

There was no such joy for 2016 semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina, though, as the eighth seed was beaten by Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Elena Vesnina was dominant as Ekaterina Makarova was brushed aside with ease in just 69 minutes, setting up a quarter-final clash with either Donna Vekic or Dominika Cibulkova.

Third seed and home favourite Svetlana Kuznetsova will meet Yulia Putintseva in the last eight after both came through their second-round ties, Kuznetsova rarely tasted as she powered past Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-3.