World No. 2 and top seed Simona Halep won on Saturday the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, as she defeated Kazakhstan’s 20-year-old sensation Elena Rybakina in the final 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
This is Halep’s second Dubai title after her triumph five years ago against Karolina Pliskova, and her 20th career championship.
The Romanian clinched the victory in an electrifying battle that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.
Just like in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, Halep came from a set down, but then surely dismantled Rybakina’s dazzling game, breaking in the fourth of the second set and then distancing herself 4-1. Rybakina reduced the gap (4-2) and, against the Romanian’s weaker serve, managed a ‘blank’ break and recovered to 4-3. No. 8 was a dramatic, more than ten minutes long game, at the end of which Halep clinched a new break after the Kazakh missed two opportunities to level at 4-4. Halep prevailed 6-3 and equaled sets.
In the decider Rybakina broke at 2-1 and then increased her lead to 3-1, but Halep fought back and managed to pull a counter-break. The two players went head-to-head to 5-5, when Halep scored another break (6-5), yet failed to seal the game as Rybakina rallied to force a tie-break (6-6).
At 3-3 Rybakina managed a mini-break (3-4), Halep restored parity, was next led 5-4, but then she won three points in a row and the match.
Halep managed to fire 3 aces and committed 5 double faults, while Rybakina had 2 aces and 5 double faults. The Romanian had a better first serve percentage (72% – 68%), but trailed at the second serve percentage (35% – 37%). Simona Halep had fewer direct winners, 28-30, but also fewer unforced errors: 23-25, and overall led 113-106 in the statistics.
Simona Halep, who announced on Saturday her withdrawal from next week’s WTA Premier 5 event in Doha, Qatar, received $696,860 in prize money and 470 WTA points, while Rybakina was rewarded with $372,200 and 305 WTA points, Agerpres informed.
“20 titles on the 20th anniversary of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in 2020. I fought really hard for this one and it feels so beautiful,” Halep wrote on her Facebook account after the victory.
Photo: Simona Halep/Facebook