Halep Claims 10th WTA Title, Super Sara Wins Rio
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The WTA tour stopped on opposite sides of the globe this week for events in Doha and Rio. The number one was the key number of the week as the top seed’s at both events ran out successful.
Top seed Simona Halep overcame the power of Pliskova to claim her 10th WTA title. The Romanian got it done in two tight sets 6-4,7-6(4) and as a result, she climbs back up to No.3 in the world.
Halep began the match well, countering the power of her opponent smoothly with great effect, and at 3-3 the world number four got her reward as she broke the Czech to love. From there, Halep went on to serve out the first set comfortably to wrap it up in 41 minutes.
The 2nd set, however, didn’t go as smoothly. Halep lost her serve early in the 2nd to go a break down, but the Romanian broke straight back to even it at 2-2. The players managed to hold serve until 3-3, which is when the chaos ensued. Halep looked to have the match sealed when she broke at 3-3, but Pliskova didn’t stop fighting and broke straight back. Halep re-established a break advantage by breaking the Czech again, but she failed to serve it out with Pliskova saving match point along the way. Halep would have another chance to serve it out at 6-5, but yet again she failed to convert a match point, and thus we were treated to a second set tie-breaker. Plsikova was the first to strike, getting the mini-break at 3-3; she wouldn’t win another point on serve. Halep broke back and gained the lead giving her the opportunity to serve out the match. Third time was the charm for Halep who converted on her third match point to take the Dubai crown.
“I’m very happy right now. I cannot explain in words how I feel,” Halep said post match. “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.
She added. “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.”
Despite the tough loss, Pliskova can certainly hold her head up high. This week has been a landmark week for the young Czech as she reached her first Premier 5 final, and obtained a career high ranking of 13.
“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.”
In the doubles, Timea babos and Kristina Mladenovic defeated Spanish pairing Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3,6-2 to take the title.
Sara Errani has edged closer to the top 10 by ending the breakthrough run of Anna Schmiedlova to win yet another clay court title in Rio.
Schmiedlova had never reached a quarter final of a WTA event before this tournament, let alone a final, and in the first set she put the former Roland Garros finalist under all sorts of pressure. The youngster pushed it all the way to a tiebreak, but from this point it was all Errani. The top seed raced through the tiebreak 7-2, to give herself a set lead after 73 long minutes.
The Italian carried that form into the second set where she quickly raced into a 4-0 lead before closing the match out on serve, 6-1.
With this result, Errani has now won eight WTA titles, and she inches ever closer to re-entering the top 10. Next week, the Italian will climb 4 places to number 12 in the world, and with clay season just around the corner, Errani has kicked into form just at the right time.
“The first set was tough. We played more than an hour,” Errani said post match. “We were both fighting hard in that set – she was playing very well and not giving me anything, really. It was also the first time I played her so I needed some time to find my tactics. I was happy I managed to win that set, and in the second set things started going much more my way. I think I was just physically stronger in the end.”
“Winning a title is always special. This tournament was great and I leave with only good memories.”
Schmiedlova, like Pliskova, can leave in good spirits despite the loss. The world number 59 had a landmark week in Rio, and will be looking to go one further in her next attempt.
“She was moving really well and she’s a really great player,” Schmiedlova said. “I played some very good tennis in the first set – the second set was worse, but I’m so happy I was in the final.
“This week gave me a lot of confidence. I hope it helps me in my next tournaments.” The youngster added.
Ysaline Bonaventure and Rebecca Peterson won the doubles title after their final opponents Irina Begu and Maria Irigoyen retired after 3 games.