Welcome to Winner’s Circle, a segment where we review each winner of every ATP and WTA tournament during the truncated 2020 season.

This edition sees former champion Simona Halep overcome stern resistance from the field to triumph in Dubai and claim her 20th career WTA title.

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Winner: Simona Halep

After a semifinal showing at the Australian Open, Halep took to the courts at the Dubai Championships. Due to her No.1 seeding, she was given an opening round bye, avoiding the likes of the returning Kim Clijsters. The Romanian faced Tunisian Ons Jabeur in the second round, and was dismantled in the first set. However, she was able to right the ship, pulling off a 1-6 6-2 7-6(7) victory.

The 2015 champion next faced big-hitting Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who won their last encounter at the quarterfinals in Adelaide. Halep again dropped the first set before gaining control and advancing after a 3-6 6-2 6-2 comeback win.

Halep faced unseeded Jennifer Brady in the semifinals, as the American had upset Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza. This encounter proved to be less of a challenge for the World No.2, who swept past Brady in a convincing 6-2 6-0 performance.

The 28-year old seemed to have found her footing, and faced one final obstacle in the form of Elena Rybakina. The unseeded Kazakh had upset second-seeded Karolina Pliskova and eighth-seeded Petra Martic en route to the final. Rybakina had in fact gotten the better of Halep at their sole previous encounter at Wuhan the previous year.

In an intense final, Halep found herself facing a one-set deficit after Rybakina took advantage of some errant play by the Romanian. However, she remained undaunted and fought back to level the match at one set apiece. The final set came down to a tiebreak, where Halep’s experience paid off. The top seed was able to maintain her nerves, clawing her way to a 3-6 6-3 7-6(5) victory.

With her 20th career title in hand, Halep not only maintained her No.2 position on the WTA rankings but was able to overlook her disappointment from the Australian Open.


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Author: Arthur Ajayi