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Halep fires Australian Open warning with Shenzhen title

Shenzhen, China: World number one Simona Halep continued her preparations for the Australian Open by lifting the Shenzhen Open title after a 6-1 2-6 6-0 victory over holder Katerina Siniakova on Saturday.

In a rain-delayed match that was moved to the indoor courts, Romanian Halep got off to a flying start and did not face a single break point as she easily won the first set.

Czech Siniakova, 21, fought back to take the second set as Halep appeared to lose focus but the top seed regained her composure to break the Czech's serve three times in the third set and seal a comfortable win.

"We had a great match today. I tried everything to win… I just try to enjoy the moment even if it's a little bit different indoors. It's not easy but we did our job and I'm happy that I could win the first title of the year," Halep said.

The success will be a boost for Halep, whose last triumph was at the Madrid Open last May, with the 26-year-old among the favourites to win her maiden grand slam title at this month's Australian Open.

"It's a great beginning of course to start the year with a title but thinking about the grand slam title is too far," Halep added.

"I'm just taking it tournament by tournament and of course I will give my best in every match I will play and my dream is to win a grand slam."

With holder Serena Williams having withdrawn from the first grand slam of the year, Halep and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, who won the Brisbane International title on Saturday, have made strong statements ahead of the event, which begins on Jan. 15. 

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