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Halep knocked out of Wuhan

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WUHAN, China– World number one Simona Halep was the biggest casualty on a day of upsets at the Wuhan Open in China on Tuesday, with the Romanian toppled in straight sets by Dominika Cibulkova.

The sparse crowd watching the late-night clash was stunned as the decidedly off-color Halep failed to win a single game against the hard-hitting Slovakian in the first set.

The French Open champion suffered a back injury during a practice session on Sunday and failed to fully recover for her opening match in Wuhan against the 31st-ranked Cibulkova, despite two days bed rest.

“It was tough at the beginning to play… (but) I didn’t want to (retire) and I just pushed myself to play better and better,” Halep said.

Despite the injury and needing treatment several times during the match, she put up a strong fight in the second set, breaking Cibulkova’s serve three times before eventually succumbing 7-5.

Even with the injury, “I was close in the second set, so this match just gives me confidence that my level is really, really good”, said the top seed, who was cheered every time she ran back after treatment to resume play.

Halep, playing her first match since her early exit from the US Open last month, added that she expects to recover from the back injury “in a few days”.

She was the biggest casualty on a day of upsets at the 2018 Wuhan Open, a $2.7-million tournament which features nine of the WTA top 10.

World number four Caroline Garcia was knocked out by qualifier Katerina Siniakova in a gruelling clash, with the second and third sets decided by tie-breakers.

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