Williams, Halep win at star-studded Adelaide exhibition

Wilson Blade 9

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty opened their 2021 tennis season at the one-day exhibition event called “A Day at the Drive” on January 29 in Adelaide.

The players were very excited, as this was the first time in almost a year that they got the chance to play in front of the crowd.

Serena Williams overcame Naomi Osaka in a third-set tiebreak to win 6-2 2-6 10-7. After the match, players expressed their gratefulness for having people in the stands again. Williams was so thrilled that she forgot the journalist’s question. She was happy just to be there and eager to thank the event organizers in Australia. Osaka, wearing a black crop top from her own Nike line, said: “I haven’t seen people in … feels like forever. Just to play in front of you guys is really amazing.”

In the last match of the night, world No.1 Ashleigh Barty competed for the first time in 11 months and lost to Simona Halep 3-6 6-1 10-8.

Playing in front of audience now feels surreal. The two-time Grand Slam champion Halep felt like it was her first tennis tournament:

I was very nervous, I felt like it was the first time playing a match.

Australian Barty had the longest period of inactivity due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and was impatient the last two or three months to get back to competition.

When it comes to men’s matches, Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-4 and the team of Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic defeated Jannick Sinner 6-3 6-3 (Krajinovic won the first set and Djokovic the second).


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