Simona Halep captured her biggest title to date, cruising past Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-3 to win the title at the Premier 5-level tournament in Doha.
Halep, a former junior world No1, has now won seven titles in the past nine months, and the 22-year-old Romanian says her confidence is at an all-time high.
“I can’t believe that I won this tournament because I was coming from indoors, playing Fed Cup, so I’m really happy and I have to enjoy this moment because it’s the best moment of my life,” said Halep on court after her win.
“Yes, it’s the highest confidence I have in myself, mentally I’m very strong. I’m feeling the ball, feeling the game and I’m enjoying every match, I’m playing with pleasure and I’m fighting a lot.
“It was a 'wow' week for me. I have more confidence now because this is the biggest tournament I’ve won so I feel amazing. I feel that I can play at a high level.
“Tomorrow morning I have a flight going to Dubai, I’ll see there what I can do but now I’ll celebrate with my family and friends here in Doha.”
Halep had a nerveless start, first taking advantage of a double fault to break Kerber to love in the opening game, before breaking again with a sharp-angled cross court winner that drew the error from the German to cruise ahead 4-1.
Serving for the set in the eighth game, Halep had to save three break points before taking a one-set lead thanks to a netted backhand from Kerber on her second set point.
Kerber had a talk with her coach Benjamin Ebrahimizade between sets, burying her face in a towel and desperately trying to regroup, and she stepped on the court to hold comfortably in the opening game of the second set.
Halep had to save a break point to hold for 1-1 and just when it looked like Kerber was finding her shots and setting up net approaches nicely, the German was broken in the fifth game on a backhand volley winner from her diminutive opponent.
Kerber upped the pressure on Halep in game eight, but the Romanian came up with a fearless down the line forehand winner at 30-30, that clipped the line to give her a game point, and she held for a 5-3 lead with a service winner.
Serving to stay in the match, Kerber hit a down the line backhand wide to give Halep her first championship point and the German let nerves take over, double-faulting to hand over the trophy to her opponent.
Despite the loss, Kerber said she loved her time in Doha – a place where she also spent her preseason training last December.
“I really like this place, I was here for two weeks in December and I really enjoyed every single moment in December and also now. We had a great week here and for sure I will come back this year and next year. I love this place and I love the people,” said Kerber.
Halep will move up one spot to No9 in the WTA rankings while Kerber will move up one spot to No8.
Both women will now make the short trip to the UAE to contest the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, starting on Monday.
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