Simona Halep completed a turbulent week on the tour in style, as she defeated surging adversary Karolina Pliskova to lift her first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title – the biggest of her professional career to date.
Early on, the match appeared as though it would be a straightforward encounter, as Halep opened up the match, found her break and stole the opening set in just over 40 minutes. However, she found herself 0-2 down in the second set, and had to fight back in a grueling second frame to close out the match 6-4, 7-6(4) in 1 hour and 47 minutes.
“I’m very happy right now. I cannot explain in words how I feel,” Halep said. “It’s an amazing title for me. It’s very important for my career. I’m really happy and just want to enjoy this moment.
“At the beginning of the tournament some people asked me if I felt pressure because I was the No.1 seed. I said no, because I wasn’t thinking about it, and I just wanted to go on court and play match by match, because everyone would play really well here. And I played with big players like Makarova, Pliskova, Wozniacki – she was No.1 two years. So it’s honestly just an amazing victory for me.”
Pliskova, who had never been to the quarter-final stage of a Premier level event such as this one, let alone the final, was far from disappointed with her week in Dubai.
“I was trying to turn it around, but even if I won the second set, I don’t know if I would have won the whole match,” she said. “It would still have been hard because she doesn’t give up on any point. She runs really, really well, and it’s hard to kill the ball against her. She really gets everything back.
“I lost, so I’m not really happy right now, but obviously I’m happy for the week and for the last two or three weeks I had. I had so many matches here and beat great players – I’m not disappointed.”