Former U.S. Open champ Stephens qualifies for first WTA finals

Simona Halep Moscow Kremlin Cup

Simona Halep Moscow Kremlin Cup

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will play Simona Halep in the second round of the Kremlin Cup after beating Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.

Halep is scheduled to play in Moscow this week before rounding out her season at the WTA Finals in Singapore but suffered a herniated disc in her back this month, casting doubt on her participation in both events.

"I was very focused on what I have to do on court, I was working hard every day, I was very motivated all the year, I did not let the time fly just without putting my work into the game", she said. The Romanian has won Roland Garros, became a champion in Shenzhen and Montreal, and at the Australian Open in Rome and Cincinnati and reached the finals.

She has a first-round bye in Moscow, but has yet to decide whether she is fit enough to play.

"I'm doing physio to try to make [my back] stronger, but I haven't practised 100 per cent yet", she said.

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 but was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Anastasija Sevastova this year.

"So I don't know now but, for sure, I will take a decision for my health first".

"I feel great. I feel very happy that I am on top two years in a row", Halep told a news conference at Moscow's Kremlin Cup, a joint ATP and WTA event.

Despite the injury, Halep is still relishing in her season. "I have already three-four days getting ready for this tournament", Halep said. In her attempt to defend her US Open title, she produced a spirited run to the last eight having defeated Mertens and Azarenka along the way.

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