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Amanda Anisimova, Simona Halep win Summer Set finals

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Darren Cahill has proved a common link as Simona Halep and Amanda Anisimova both lifted silverware on Rod Laver Arena.

The unusual arrangement thanks to a COVID-19-hit preparation saw back-to-back WTA finals in Melbourne on Sunday, with the field split into two separate events, dubbed the Melbourne Summer Set.

American 20-year-old Anisimova, who was beaten in the 2019 French Open semi-final by Ash Barty, rediscovered her best form in a defiant 7-5 1-6 6-4 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Then Romania’s two-time major winner Halep, an Australian Open finalist four years ago and semi-finalist in 2020, proved too classy in a 6-2 6-3 defeat of Veronika Kudermetova.

Both women had reason to thank Australian coach Cahill, who has parted ways with Halep after helping her to grand slam glory and is now working with Anisimova.

Anisimova said she was yet to lock in Cahill’s full-time services, but was keen after their instant success.

“If he’s available and free to be with me through the Australian Open, then I’d be glad to,” she said.

“I had a really good time with him this week, and other than being a really great coach, he’s also an amazing person, so just having him in my corner has been really great.”

Halep had criticised her own form on the way to the final.

But in lifting a 23rd career WTA trophy the former world No.1 couldn’t complain ahead of the year’s first major beginning in a week’s time.

Anisimova enjoyed a happy return to Melbourne, two years after a tearful exit in what was her first major since the sudden death of her father.

Regarded as one of the sport’s bright stars, the former world No.21 came from 4-2 down in the first set and 3-0 in the decider to clinch the trophy and net her first title in almost three years.

“I want to thank Melbourne, I always love playing here and I’m super excited for a couple more amazing weeks here,” the world No.78 said.

“Tennis can be a difficult journey at times but I’m so happy and grateful to have the people in my life I have.

“Last year was very difficult and they (mum and sister) stood by me all the way. It’s so good to start the year in such a good place, I’m super grateful.”

-AAP

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