Simona Halep answered a lot of questions and silenced (at least temporarily) a lot of doubters en route to winning the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships women’s singles title. She came in as the top seed even though Petra Kvitova was ranked higher to start the tournament. Many looked to Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams or Ana Ivanovic as better picks to win. Much of this stemmed from Simona’s less than stellar effort in meekly bowing out in the quarterfinals at the 2015 Australian Open against Ekaterina Makarova, losing 4-6 0-6. When the pressure was on at Dubai, would Halep respond? Heck, yes. First up was a rematch in the quarters against Makarova. Simona won the first set 6-3 but was rolled 1-6 in the second. Halepeno would not fold, fighting for a final set 7-5 victory to vanquish the ghosts of Melbourne. Next up she faced Wozniacki in the semis. Sunshine laid a 2-6 drubbing on Simona in the first set. Then Halep caught fire with two triumphant bread stick sets to win, 2-6 6-1 6-1. The final was intriguing against the fast rising Karolina Pliskova, who will ascend to world #12 on Monday. It was a tough match, but Halepeno edged her out, 6-4 7-6 (4). It’s Simona’s 10th WTA singles title and 2nd already in 2015. Unfortunately, she has pulled out of this coming week’s Qatar Total Open.
Sara Errani didn’t have nearly the same gauntlet to run through at the 2015 Rio Open, as she was the only top 20 singles player in the draw. Nevertheless, trophies are no guarantee in any sport. Sara still had to go out there and show why she was the best clay court player in this event. Of her 8 WTA singles titles, 7 are now on clay. She was also a finalist at Roland Garros 2012. Her lone hard court singles title came at the 2008 Slovenia Open. Of course, paired with Roberta Vinci in doubles, they are a terror on any surface. Be on the lookout for her opponent in the final, 20-year old Anna Schmiedlova. It was Anna’s first career WTA final. Although she didn’t win, Schmiedlova has a lot of potential and could make noise in the near future.
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DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
1 SIMONA HALEP (won 6-4 7-6 (4) vs 17 Karolina Pliskova)
1 SARA ERRANI (won 7-6 (2) 6-1 vs 6 Anna Schmiedlova)