Serena Floors Halep To Make Australian Open Semis

Serena Williams of the US touches racquets with Romania’s Simona Halep (R) after their women’s singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 16, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

An unstoppable Serena Williams reached a 40th Grand Slam semi-final Tuesday, overpowering second seed Simona Halep to book an Australian Open last-four showdown with Naomi Osaka.

The clinical seven-time champion, in her 20th Australian Open and 77th Grand Slam, was simply too intense in beating the Romanian 6-3, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

“Definitely think this is the best match I have played this tournament, for sure,” said 10th seed Williams, who is another step closer to a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

“Obviously I had to be going up against the number two in the world, so I knew I had to do better, and that’s what I did and I’m excited.”

The 39-year-old, 23-time major winner has lost four Slam finals while chasing Margaret Court’s all-time mark since her last major victory at Melbourne Park in 2017 while pregnant.

Japan’s Osaka stands between Williams and a place in another decider after the third seed crushed Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2.

The ultra-consistent Halep had only beaten Williams twice in 11 meetings going back a decade, but destroyed her 6-2, 6-2 the last time they met, in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

But Williams came out all guns blazing to hold serve then forced a break point with a searing cross-court backhand, taking a 2-0 lead when Halep sent a forehand long.

The Romanian, Williams’ highest-ranked opponent since defeating then number two Osaka at Toronto in 2019, settled down and immediately broke back.

Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said this week she was moving better than at any time since giving birth and she worked more break points in game six, converting on the second.

She was striking the ball hard, cleanly, and accurately, giving Halep few opportunities to counter-attack, and took the set in 36 minutes with a fittingly dominant love game.

But while easily outpacing Halep in hitting winners, her unforced error count was soaring and some poor shots gifted the Romanian an early break for 2-0 in the second set, with Williams turning to her box and asking: “What’s happening?”

She regrouped to immediately strike back then failed to hold serve again as Halep became more aggressive, only for the second seed to throw away the advantage by allowing Williams to break once more.

The driven American finally held serve to level the set at 3-3 and in a mammoth, and decisive, six-minute game featuring a 20-shot rally edged ahead 4-3 on her sixth break point.

There was no way back for a dejected Halep as Williams held serve then took the honours on her second match point.

Halep Grateful For French Open Chance After Virus Upheaval

Romania’s Simona Halep plays a backhand to Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova during the final match of the Women’s Italian Open at Foro Italico on September 21, 2020 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP)

 

French Open favourite Simona Halep said Friday she was grateful to just have the chance to play at Roland Garros this year after the tennis calendar was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

Delayed four months from its traditional spring billing, players must contend with vastly different conditions and far cooler temperatures than they are used to in the French capital.

“To play Roland Garros in September, end of September, it’s a little bit weird,” said Halep, the 2018 champion.

“But it’s nice that we have the chance to play at this tournament. We should actually thank everyone for fighting so hard to make it possible.”

The Romanian was among six top 10 players to skip the recent US Open over Covid-19 fears, but the extended lay-off has not impacted her form.

Halep comes into the competition owning a 20-2 record this season. She has won her last three events, in Dubai before the virus shutdown, and then titles on clay in Prague and Rome.

The top seed begins her campaign against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo and can return to the number one ranking with a second French Open title.

With defending champion Ashleigh Barty opting not to play and US Open winner Naomi Osaka sidelined by injury, Halep is the only top three representatives in the field here.

“I’m honoured to hear that I am the favourite, people thinking that I’m the favourite. But I don’t look in that direction,” said Halep.

“It’s not extra pressure. I’m used to this kind of pressure because I’ve been No. 1 seeded in the past. I’ve been in this position,” she added.

“I take it as a normal tournament. So no extra pressure for me, it’s just a positive pressure that I have.”

– ‘Feel the cold’ –

Conditions are expected to be heavier with rain forecast for much of the first week. Fortunately, the showpiece Philippe Chatrier Court will debut its new retractable roof.

Halep, unbeaten in 14 matches, is confident she will adjust to whatever challenges arise.

“When it’s cold, it’s a little bit heavier and a little bit different. It’s a big difference between Rome and here, that’s for sure. 15 degrees less,” she said.

“I feel the cold. I feel like struggling a little bit. But for everybody is the same.

“Every time I play on these courts I like because they are a little bit harder and the ball bounces a little bit more. The conditions are good for me, in my opinion.”

Halep, who is also the Wimbledon champion, has reached the final in Paris on three occasions — in 2014, 2017 and 2018.

Maria Sharapova got the better of her in 2014 with a shock loss to unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko three years ago.

Halep, however, eventually made her major breakthrough 12 months later when she beat Sloane Stephens for the title in Paris.

“Every tournament I play, it’s a dream to win it. French Open is very special because it was the first Grand Slam. It will stay forever like this,” said Halep.

“Every time I come here I have the desire to play as good as possible and to go till the end. But as we know, every match is a battle, every match is very tough. I’m not thinking about the title right now.”

AFP

Halep Wins Italian Open As Defending Champ Pliskova Retires

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Jennifer Brady of the US during their women’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. William WEST / AFP

Top seed Simona Halep won her first Italian Open title on Monday after defending champion Karolina Pliskova retired while trailing 6-0, 2-1 in Monday’s final.

World number two Halep, 28, was competing in her third Rome WTA final, having finished runner-up in 2017 and 2018 on the clay at the Foro Italico.

Wimbledon champion Halep’s 22nd career title comes just a week before the start of the French Open which she won in 2018.

AFP

Halep Pulls Out Of Palermo WTA Tournament

Simona Halep of Romania leaves the court following her third round women’s singles match against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan at the Wuhan Open tennis tournament in Wuhan on September 25, 2019. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

World number two Simona Halep announced Sunday that she will not compete in the Palermo WTA event, which will mark the season’s resumption after a five-month coronavirus suspension.

“Given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Romania and my anxieties around international air travel at this time, I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Palermo,” Wimbledon champion Halep said on Twitter.

“I want to thank the tournament director and the Italian ministry of health for all efforts on my behalf.”

Organisers had been seeking an exemption for the 28-year-old former world number one, who also won the French Open in 2018, to compete after Italian authorities on Friday imposed a 14-day quarantine on entry into Italy for all those who had been in Romania and Bulgaria during the previous two weeks.

“We found out with great bitterness the decision of the world number two to cancel her participation,” said tournament director, Oliviero Palma.

“Yesterday we were optimistic, and we had informed Halep’s staff about the fact that professional players are not obliged to quarantine.”

“Nevertheless, Halep’s staff only communicated us the final decision, frustrating all our efforts. We are embittered and profoundly disappointed.”

The clay-court tournament in Sicily gets underway on August 3.

AFP

Halep Makes Winning Start At Australian Open

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Jennifer Brady of the US during their women’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. William WEST / AFP

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep survived a couple of tumbles and a sore wrist before surging into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday.

The Romanian fourth seed recovered from a poor start to beat the big-hitting American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 and launch her title bid.

The 2018 Roland Garros and 2019 Wimbledon champion faces British qualifier, Harriet Dart, next in Melbourne.

The 28-year-old Halep had her serve broken in the first game by the 49th-ranked Brady, who defeated world number one Ashleigh Barty in the build-up to the year’s first Grand Slam.

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Jennifer Brady of the US during their women’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. William WEST / AFP

Halep, the 2018 runner-up, was uncharacteristically flustered, taking a couple of falls, tossing her racquet and complaining to her coach.

She appeared to hurt her right wrist in one fall in the first set, and had heavy strapped by a medic.

“A little bit sore but nothing dangerous at this moment,” the former world number one said afterwards.

“So I will see tomorrow morning after I wake up.”

With both players relentlessly pummelling from the baseline, Halep finally put a punishing first set away in 69 tough minutes, having saved three set points to force the tie-break.

The second set was far more straightforward as the 24-year-old Brady appeared to run out of gas and Halep made light of her painful wrist.

AFP

China Open: Halep Suffers Defeat To Alexandrova In Second Round

Simona Halep of Romania leaves the court following her third round women’s singles match against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan at the Wuhan Open tennis tournament in Wuhan on September 25, 2019. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

Simona Halep was beaten in the second round of the China Open on Monday by Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Romanian appearing to struggle with a back injury.

The 28-year-old reigning Wimbledon champion lost 6-2, 6-3 in 64 minutes in Beijing to bring her tournament to an early end.

Halep, fifth in the world, was far from her best as she went down meekly to the 38th-ranked Alexandrova.

She was also forced out of last week’s Wuhan Open because of her troublesome back.

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu had to dig deep as she won her first match since her US Open heroics.

The 19-year-old rising star defeated 60th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in what was at times an unconvincing performance, finishing the match with 31 unforced errors.

The world number six, who stunned Serena Williams in the final at Flushing Meadows, arrived in Beijing on a run of 13 wins in a row.

She looked all set to carry on her blistering form against Sasnovich and emphatically captured the first set.

But Andreescu struggled with her serve in the second, totting up six double faults and was in danger of losing her cool in the haze of the Chinese capital.

Normal order was restored in the deciding set, Andreescu breaking Sasnovich’s first service game and then holding her own to take a 3-0 lead and an advantage she refused to surrender.

In round two the Canadian sensation plays Elise Mertens, the world number 23 from Belgium.

AFP

Miss Congeniality: Halep Proves Nice Girls Do Win

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates beating US player Serena Williams during their women’s singles final on day twelve of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2019.
GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Simona Halep handed Serena Williams her most lopsided Grand Slam final loss to clinch the Wimbledon title on Saturday and there will be few more popular champions.

Humble and grounded, Halep had already showed incredible resolve to win the 2018 Roland Garros title having lost all three of her previous Slam finals.

She further endeared herself by announcing before that Paris final that she “would be okay” if she lost again, as “no-one would have died”.

Halep, 27, is only the second Romanian woman to win a major after Virginia Ruzici claimed the 1978 French Open. Ruzici is now her manager.

Before her 2018 Roland Garros breakthrough, Halep had suffered three agonising defeats when one set from glory at the majors.

She lost the 2014 Roland Garros final to Maria Sharapova and the 2017 championship match in Paris after leading Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0.

Her third came earlier in 2018 against another perennial underachiever on the biggest stage, Caroline Wozniacki, in a marathon match in sweltering conditions at Melbourne Park.

Halep became world number one in August 2017 and her 2018 French Open win over Sloane Stephens made her the first player to win her first Grand Slam title while holding the top ranking.

A huge star in her home country — Halep has appeared on the front cover of Romania’s ‘Elle’ magazine and opened a restaurant called ‘SH’ in her hometown of Constanta, which lies on the Black Sea.

“The fact that I am able to win maybe will give an inspiration also to Romanians, the kids, that it’s possible, even if you come from a little country, it’s possible if you work and if you believe.”

One of the main reasons why Halep had to wait so long to lift a major title was her relative lack of power when compared to the game’s other big stars.

But she has found compensation. “I’m fast, though, no?”

Halep, who Sports Illustrated once described as an ‘anti-diva’, now has $33 million banked from her career.

But she has not been seduced by the glitter of the sports world.

On Saturday, she made a point of thanking her mother for inspiration while light-heartedly winning the hearts of the All England Club.

“My mom said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis I have to play in the final at Wimbledon,” she told Centre Court.

“I had lots of nerves, my stomach wasn’t very well.

She added: “I said at the start of the tournament that one of my motivations was to win and become a lifetime member of the club!”

Her folksy charm has also seduced hardened reporters.

She only follows two people on Twitter — one is former coach Darren Cahill and the other, bizarrely, is three-time world snooker champion Mark Selby.

“I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him,” said Halep.

“He’s been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That’s why I follow him.”

Halep has also expressed a childlike delight in the British royal family, confessing she’s a particular fan of the Duchess of Cambridge.

“Kate’s my favourite,” said Halep as the object of her regal affection looked down from the Royal Box.

But there still remains a steely streak, illustrated by the decision she made 10 years ago to undergo breast reduction surgery.

“It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play,” she once said.

“I didn’t like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman.”

[UPDATED] Halep Shocks Serena To Win Wimbledon Title

Romania’s Simona Halep poses with the Venus Rosewater Dish trophy after beating Serena Williams during their women’s singles final clash at Wimbledon, on July 13, 2019.
GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Simona Halep torpedoed Serena Williams’s latest bid to capture a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam on Saturday when she stormed to a sensational victory in a 56-minute Wimbledon final.

The 27-year-old Romanian captured her second career major with a 6-2, 6-2 victory adding a maiden Wimbledon — the first for her country in both men’s and women’s singles — to her 2018 Roland Garros triumph.

Defeat for 37-year-old Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion who won the last of her 23 Slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open, meant her attempt to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record for major wins was put back on ice until at least the US Open.

“My mom said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis I have to play in the final at Wimbledon,” said Halep.

“I had lots of nerves, my stomach wasn’t very well. I have never played a better match.

“I said at the start of the tournament that one of my motivations was to win and become a lifetime member of the club.”

Williams bluntly admitted she had not been at the races against a superior opponent.

“She played out of her mind. I was like a deer in the headlights,” said Williams.

Williams was undone by 26 unforced errors to Halep’s two.

Williams may have kept Halep waiting to go on the court but if she hoped that would upset her opponent it did quite the opposite.

Indeed the Halep fan who burst into song — waving a Romanian scarf from the 2015 Rugby World Cup — singing “We love you Simona, we do!” served to give her the boost to rattle Williams from the start.

A flashing forehand crosscourt set the tone and she broke her in the first game.

She broke again to lead 3-0 — things clearly not going Williams’s way when a Halep shot clipped the net and went over but the American’s shot also clipped the net but failed to go over.

Already 3-0 down after eight minutes, Williams was completely at sea and by the time Halep served to lead 4-0 Williams had won just six points.

She finally got on the board with her next service game but Halep had little trouble in sealing the set which included another remarkable point from the Romanian.

The 27-year-old raced to retrieve an incredible get which sneaked over the net and Williams was only able to put her shot into the net.

Williams — who has let slip opportunities to equal Court’s record in last year’s Wimbledon and US Open finals — appeared to at last get fired up in the first game of the second set.

She let out a long yell at the ground when she won a point on her serve and another on the next point.

However, that was a rare show of her fiery side as Halep broke her to lead 3-2.

Halep rubbed in her superiority to break her again for 5-2 — two powerful serves earlier in the game had Williams saying why was I not able to do this earlier — and took the match and the title with aplomb with the first of her three match points.

She sank to her knees a broad smile on her face before rising to hug Williams.

Her victory also gave Halep’s favoured royal Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, bragging rights over sister-in-law Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — they were sitting beside each other in the Royal Box.

Meghan is a close friend of Williams.

AFP

Halep Becomes First Romanian Woman To Reach Wimbledon Final

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after beating Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina during their women’s singles semi-final match on day ten of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, on July 11, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Simona Halep became the first Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final on Thursday when she defeated Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3.

The 27-year-old seventh seed, who was French Open champion in 2018, will be playing in her fifth Grand Slam final.

“It’s an amazing feeling but I am also excited and nervous. It is one of the best moments of my life,” said Halep.

“The match was not easy, the games were long and went deep.

“I fought hard to win this match and I was strong mentally and physically and had the right tactics.”

Halep will face either seven-time champion Serena Williams or unseeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic for the title on Saturday.

Halep, who had knocked out new star, 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the last 16, lost in her previous semi-final appearance at Wimbledon to Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

However, she said she was a different player now and had taken to grass.

“I have more experience, I don’t give up anymore,” she said.

“I plan to be the best version of myself and fight to the end.”

The easy manner in which former world number one Halep wrapped up the match had not looked on the cards at the outset.

Svitolina, the first Ukrainian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, and Halep traded shots aplenty and break points in the opening two games which took over 20 minutes to complete but Halep emerged on top with a 2-0 lead.

Svitolina, being watched from the players’ box by her English coach Andy Bettles and French boyfriend and ATP star Gael Monfils, briefly raised her game to break back.

However, Halep broke again immediately and 24-year-old Svitolina gave an indication of her increasing frustration when she netted a simple volley and lashed out, kicking the ball into the net.

Worse was to come for Svitolina on her next service game when Halep produced a stunning shot to go 5-1.

The 27-year-old Romanian dashed across court to get to Svitolina’s drop shot and flashed it cross court.

Halep, who had not faced a seeded player until Svitolina, faced some resistance as she served for the set eventually taking it on her sixth set point.

Although Svitolina stayed with Halep for the first part of the second set, the self-belief and fight had gone and when the Romanian broke for 4-3 it was game over.

All that was left was for Halep to raise her arms in the air and her eyes to the sky blowing a kiss a the same time.

AFP

Halep Advances Into Second Wimbledon Semi-Final

Romania’s Simona Halep returns against China’s Shuai Zhang during their women’s singles quarter-final match on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2019. GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Simona Halep reached her second Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 victory over China’s Zhang Shuai.

Halep, the seventh-seeded former world number one, will face either Elina Svitolina, the eighth seed from Ukraine, or Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in the final.

Zhang, bidding to become just the second Chinese woman to reach the semi-finals, led 4-1 in the first set and held four break points for a 5-1 lead.

READ ALSO: Serena Fined $10,000 For Wimbledon Court Damage

“I fought hard in the first set, even if I was down 4-1,” said 27-year-old Halep, a former French Open champion.

“I knew I had to be strong, play aggressive as much as possible and I did it great.

“I have energy, I feel fresh, I feel healthy, I feel confident when I step on the court.”

Romania’s Halep last made the last-four in 2014 when she was beaten by Eugenie Bouchard.

AFP

Miami Open: Djokovic Beats Delbonis, Halep Battles Into Fourth Round

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after defeating Federico Delbonis of Argentina on Day 7 of the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Hard Rock Stadium on March 24, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

 

Novak Djokovic remains on course for a record seventh Miami Open title, but the world number one admitted to a loss of focus in a 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory over spirited Federico Delbonis which booked his place in the last 16.

Djokovic is hoping to eclipse Andre Agassi’s six ATP crowns in South Florida over the next week and although the 31-year-old endured some shaky moments at Hard Rock Stadium, he still possessed enough quality during the key moments to see off the battling Delbonis.

The Serbian, though, wasn’t happy with letting a 5-2 advantage slip in the first set and became furious with himself as the second squirmed from his grasp.

READ ALSO: Djokovic, Osaka Win Miami Openers As Thiem Tumbles

He will need to tighten up his game if he is to reach next Sunday’s final with Roberto Bautista Agut waiting in the fourth round after the Spaniard defeated Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4.

“To be honest, I lost my focus,” said Djokovic who smashed 36 winners compared to 24 from Delbonis. “I should have done better I think mentally than I have done at the end of the first two sets.

“I managed to really play well last couple games of the first set, go up a break, put myself in front, then I played a couple of really bad service games. Credit to Federico, he stepped in.”

Djokovic had looked impressive in the second round win over Bernard Tomic and the Serbian continued his decent form by immediately imposing himself onto the Argentine.

Djokovic moved 5-2 ahead but after he missed a set point opportunity on the Delbonis serve, his game deserted him and suddenly, the South American had a spring in his step.

Delbonis had opportunities to steal ahead, yet calling on all his experience and mental resolve, the Serbian was able to hold firm and take the opener.

The world number one was getting incredibly frustrated, he received a warning for racquet abuse and was furious for allowing a 3-1 lead to slip in the second, yet credit to Delbonis who stayed calm and served out confidently to force a decider, something which looked beyond him midway through the opening set.

He couldn’t keep the pressure on, however, and when Djokovic managed to get 3-1 ahead, this time there was no way back for the 28-year-old from Azul who rightly received an ovation from the center court crowd for his monumental efforts.

“I think last four games were terrific, so I ended up in a positive way,” Djokovic added.

Defending champion John Isner blew Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas off the court with serves touching 139 mph as the American sealed an ultimately comprehensive 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) win to set up an intriguing match with Kyle Edmund in the last 16 after the British number one impressively saw off Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4.

In the women’s draw, Simona Halep kept alive hopes of regaining the world number one ranking Sunday, beating Polona Hercog 5-7, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to reach the last 16 where she will play Venus Williams.

Halep, 27, lost her place at the top of the rankings following Naomi Osaka’s triumph at the Australian Open earlier this year.

But with the Japanese faltering here on Saturday, Halep can return to the position she last held at the end of 2018 if she lands the Miami Open for the first time.

“It’s always tough against Venus,” said the current world number three, who has beaten the American in their previous three encounters.

“I’m not going to say that it’s going to be easier because I won the last matches against her. It’s a big challenge for me.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, meanwhile, swept past Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1.

“Simona always plays flawless tennis against me, so I have to be ready for that,” Williams said.

Elsewhere in women’s action, American Sloane Stephens’s title defense ended in a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

It was another disappointing ending for Stephens, who fell in the third round at Indian Wells.

AFP

 

Kvitova, Halep Breeze Into Quarters In Windy Dubai

(file copy) Simona Halep of Romania/ AFP

 

Former titleholders Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep battled through brisk desert winds to advance into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday.

Second seed Kvitova, now the highest-ranked player remaining in the field after the surprise elimination of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, outlasted American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

Crowd favourite and third seed Halep supported even in the middle of a workday by scores of chanting, enthusiastic local Romanian fans, beat Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine 6-3, 7-5, breaking seven times from 10 chances.

The challenger managed just a single point over the last three games as former number one Halep demonstrated her superiority by winning her seventh in the series without a loss.

Slovak Viktoria Kuzmova reached a 2019 last-eight place for the second time this season after Auckland through a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat of American Sofia Kenin.

Kvitova, who won the Dubai trophy in 2013, admitted that she came into the week somewhat unprepared, last playing on the WTA in a St Petersburg quarter-final a fortnight ago.

“When I came here, I didn’t really have many days of practice, to be honest,” the two-time Wimbledon winner said.

“I had something different to do in my life. I wasn’t really that prepared for this tournament.

“But I’m happy I was able to get two wins. It’s great when you’re not playing your best and you still find a way to win.”

The gusty conditions were testing inside the stadium at the Aviation Club which 2015 Dubai holder Halep managed to control as she rolled over Tsurenko.

READ ALSO: Robertson Backs Liverpool To Overcome Bayern

“The wind was difficult today. It didn’t feel like last week (in Doha),” Halep said. “I know how she’s playing, it’s not my favourite style because she doesn’t give any power on the ball).

“I’ve had many matches with her and won them. I feel confident when I play her.”

The Romanian who is currently without a coach, was more than pleased with her strong sprint finish to a match which lasted one hour, 20 minutes.

Last week’s Doha finalist said: “My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible. I’m trying to be more aggressive.

“I’m more relaxed. I don’t put pressure on myself. Also I have no expectations. I feel that my game is pretty strong.

“I feel close to my highest level.”

AFP