Simona Halep won her 20th title at 20th Dubai WTA tennis championships
Romanian Simona Halep won her 20th title at 20th anniversary of Dubai hosting the WTA Tour.
Halep, a previous champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in 2015 and the Wimbledon 2019 champion defeated her young rival, the 20-year-old Elena Rybakina 3-6 6-3 7-6(5) on Saturday 22nd February to claim her second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.
Halep had a smashing tournament all around, defeating the odds to claim her trophy. It all started when she saved a match point in her opening match against the Tunisian Ons Jabeur, then she gallantly fought back from a set down to defeat the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and finally won against the American Jennifer Brady in the semi-finals.
On Saturday, September 22, at a packed stadium of 5,000 spectators the night was filled with countless rallies that pushed the seasoned Halep and the young, up and coming Rybakina to play at peak performance. The encounter proved to be one of the most exciting Dubai Duty Free Tennis finals in its 20-year WTA history.
Halep said “I want it badly, so that's why I fought till the end” and for that she won. In true style of a champion she was quick to praise her opponent the young Kazak Rybakina’s tremendous effort and said “Yeah, I think these matches, sometimes it's better if we finish like equal because I feel in a way sorry for her because she's young and she wanted it so much’ Halep continued her kind words about the Kazak and said ‘She's strong. She has a huge serve. She's tall. She has power. I think she's really good to get into the top 10 very soon.”
Elena Rybakina did not have an easy rise to this final in her Dubai debut. She defeated the recently crowned Australian Open champion and number 7 seed Sofia Kenin and then followed that up by dismissing 2nd seed Karolina Pliskova, Katerina Siniakova and 8th seed Petra Martic. She is now placed firmly in the world’s top 20 as a result of this week.
After the final she was all smiles, although admitting it would have been good to win. She seemed very well aware that this is just the beginning.
“It was actually a close match. I'm a bit upset that it's again just final. In the beginning of the week I didn't even expect that I can be in the final. So it's been a great week for me“.
But the tennis is by no means over, men’s ATP week will begin from 24th to 29th February with Wimbledon, Australian Open and world number 1 Novak Djokovic, ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 Rotterdam and Montpellier champion Gael Monfils and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.