Simona Halep to defend Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title

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The Romanian beat Karolina Pliskova in last year's final.

Simona Halep will be defending her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title after all, as the Romanian world No.3 accepted a wild card into the tournament, having decided to postpone her previously-scheduled nasal surgery.

Last year’s runner-up, world No.11, Karolina Pliskova along with world No.9 and 2013 champion Petra Kvitova have also taken wild cards for the Dubai event while fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and world No.10 Lucie Safarova have withdrawn.

Radwanska, the 2012 champion, has cited a left leg injury for her withdrawal while Safarova, who hasn’t played since last October, is continuing her recovery from a bacterial infection and is currently preparing for her title defence in Doha where she is meant to make her long-awaited return at the Qatar Total Open, that starts on February 21.

Halep, who first delayed her surgery to take part in Romania’s 3-2 loss to the Czechs last weekend, has decided to further postpone the medical procedure and confirmed her participation in Dubai and Doha.

Asked when she’ll be having the nasal surgery, Halep told www.fedcup.com: “I’m not sure. Now I’ve started to play good tennis I don’t want to stop again.

“I had long breaks before, many antibiotics so I have to stay a little bit away from them and then we’ll see – maybe (later) this year I have to do it because it’s better for me.”

Halep suffered a shock opening round defeat at last month’s Australian Open and revealed she has been battling infections that have affected her form, but feels she is rebounding well physically and is ready to compete again.

“I’m more confident now than before. I’m still pretty far away from my best – pretty far emotionally, pretty far mentally – but physically I’m back, I feel like I’m strong again. I just need more confidence in my game, in my shots, then I’ll be back 100 per cent,” said the Romanian former French Open runner-up.

The latest shake-up in the draw means that four of the world’s top-five and six of the top-10 will be competing in Dubai, where the action kicks off on Monday February 15.

China’s Peng Shuai, who missed most of last season with a back injury, has also joined Radwanska and Safarova in missing the Dubai tournament and the trio were replaced by 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

Meanwhile, the draw for the Fed Cup World Group play-offs has revealed some blockbuster match-ups as Romania are set to host Germany, Italy will visit Spain, USA will travel to Australia and Russia will host Belarus on April 16-17.

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