WTA Tour

Halep beaten by Mertens in Qatar Open final

Simona Halep (AP)
Simona Halep (AP)

Doha - Belgium's Elise Mertens claimed the biggest win of her career on Saturday, surprisingly coming from a set down to beat world number three Simona Halep and clinch the Qatar Open.

The world number 21 won 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, despite being outclassed in the first set, overcoming an eight-minute medical timeout for back pain in the second set, and losing 18 consecutive points at one stage in the match.

"It's a big moment for me, getting that victory," said a jubilant Mertens, 23, afterwards.

"I think this one would be, especially also with my tennis I played, the nicest one, nicest victory."

Her win, in a little over two hours, was her third victory over a top ten player in Doha this week, and her second over a Grand Slam champion.

Halep is the reigning French Open champion and Angelique Kerber, who she beat in the semi-finals, holds the Wimbledon title.

Qatar is the fifth title of Mertens' career but notably her first at a Premier-level event.

She said it outshone her achievement in getting to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2018.

Mertens started nervously, lost her opening service game, and the first set in just 32 minutes.

At 2-0 down in the second, it looked like it was going to turn into a routine victory for Halep.

"I couldn't say I was really nervous," she added, "but I think my shots went long.

"So, I really had to accelerate a little bit better to keep it in the court."

Mertens broke back, then called for medical attention and was the stronger player for the remainder of the game.

She could rise as high number 16 in the next rankings because of her victory in Doha.

Coincidentally her ranking of 21 coming into the tournament was exactly the same as last year's winner in Doha, Petra Kvitova.

A clearly fading Halep, who played in the Fed Cup last weekend when she led Romania into the semi-finals for the first time, also called for medical assistance for treatment to a blister on her right foot.

"I was really tired in the third set, I couldn't have the chance to win this match," said Halep, who won the Qatar title in 2014.

"I had to be 100% to be able to win such a big match. But she deserved to win, she was stronger, she was fresher. I'm not making a drama."

Halep added that she "needed rest", but would definitely play in Dubai next week.

Despite her defeat, the Romanian will head back to number two in the rankings on the back of her performances in Doha.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
42% - 8919 votes
Cricket
11% - 2306 votes
Football
19% - 4074 votes
Athletics
2% - 528 votes
Boxing
1% - 189 votes
Cycling
2% - 494 votes
Golf
5% - 1041 votes
Motorsport
9% - 1805 votes
Tennis
3% - 725 votes
Water sports
1% - 196 votes
American sports
1% - 266 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 670 votes
Vote