Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Total Open
Elise Mertens captures the Falcon
Tremendous week for Elise Mertens. Exhausting 10 days for Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho.
Fed Cup travel conflicts, injury and illness all cratered Doha’s draws before the Round of 16 began. In all, 15 players bailed on Qualifying, while 8 surrendered spots in Doha’s main draw. With a revolving door of participating talent, scheduling became “Level-19 Tetris.”
Then on Monday, rain nearly washed out the Final Round of Qualifying and Round-1’s first match. It was a nightmare. Thankfully, the weather stabilized on Tuesday, and the 2019 Qatar Total Open moved forward with 3 of its top-four seeds, 4 Qualifiers, a pair of Wild Cards and 5 Lucky Losers.
Even with the withdrawals, Elise Mertens earned the title
There’s no question, this year’s champion Elise Mertens benefited from 2019’s mass exodus. But in the end, she still had to earn her 5th career Singles title.
In Round-1, Mertens took out Katerina Siniakova in straight sets. Originally a qualifier, Siniakova snuck into the main draw with Madison Keys’ withdrawal.
In the Round of 16, Elise avoided a clash with 2017 Champion and #2-seed Karolina Pliskova – who, after a 1st-Round Bye, withdrew moments before the match. Instead, Mertens faced Karolina’s twin sister Kristyna, who stepped-in as 2019’s fifth Lucky Loser.
Elise then defeated three top-10 talents to capture her 5th career Singles title.
Check out the match recap above. Elise was down a set and break in tonight’s championship match — yet still, she battled back to upset World #3 Simona Halep in the deciding set. Fantastic victory.
Head to Head: Third meeting between Mertens and Halep
Simona Halep won both of their previous matches in 2018 on clay – in Madrid’s 2nd-Round, and in the Round of 16 at Roland Garros. This was their first meeting on hard-court.
Back inside the top-20. Mertens rekindles the flames fanned last year in Melbourne
Last April, Elise broke inside the WTA’s top-20 for the first time after defeating her doubles partner Aryna Sabalenka in the Lugano Final. It was her second Singles title of the year (she also won Hobart during week-1). She’d go-on to lift her 3rd trophy of the season in Rabat — and by the end of the year, climbed to a career-high ranking of World #12.
Elise’s 2018 Singles breakthrough started with her breathtaking run to the Australian Open Semifinals, after capturing the title in Hobart.
This year however, Elise lost her opening match of the season in Brisbane. She won only two matches in Sydney and a pair of matches in Melbourne. Last weekend, she lost both of her Fed Cup Singles Rubbers in Belgium’s fall to France in the World Group Quarterfinals. Overall, she was 4-5 this season coming into the Qatar Total Open, and dropped outside the top-20.
On Monday, she’ll jump back up to World #16 and leaves Doha with a season record of 9-5.
Up next, we’ll see if she can harness her renewed momentum at 2019’s first Premier-5 event in Dubai — a big ask after an emotional triumph over Halep.
Elise Mertens -21- (BEL) | Championship Announcer Introduction
In the past 48-hours, she’s earned back-to-back top-10 wins – defeating World #8 Kiki Bertens in the Quarters, and 3-time Major Champion Angelique Kerber in the Semifinals. And tonight, she is competing in her 6th career Final on the WTA Tour. Last year, she started the season by capturing both the Singles and Doubles titles in Hobart, then made her Grand Slam Semifinal debut at the Australian Open – setting the stage for a tremendous 2018 that saw her climb from World #36 to World #12. She earned 3 Singles titles last year, 4 Doubles titles, reached 6 Doubles Finals, and made career-best runs at all four Majors. She qualified for both year-end championships – reaching the WTA Finals in Doubles, the WTA Elite Trophy in Singles, and completed 2018 with career-high rankings in both disciplines. Through to the championship match in just her 2nd Qatar Total Open – From Belgium, please welcome Elise Mertens.
- FF — W |  Simona Halep -03- (ROU) | Score: 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
- SF — W |  Angelique Kerber -06- (GER) | Score: 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 | RECAP
- QF — W |  Kiki Bertens -08- (NED) | Score: 6-4, 6-3 | RECAP
- R2 — W | ^ [LL] Kristyna Pliskova -90- (CZE) | Score: 6-2, 7-6(3) | RECAP
- R1 — W | ** Katerina Siniakova -44- (CZE) | Score: 6-4, 6-2 | RECAP
^ Withdrawal:  Karolina Pliskova -05- (CZE)
** Withdrawal before tournament began: Madison Keys -17- (USA)
 Simona Halep -03- (ROU) | Championship Announcer Introduction
Last night, down a set and break, she came-back to defeat World #7 Elina Svitolina to reach tonight’s championship match – her second Qatar Total Open Final. Over the weekend, she and her Fed Cup Teammates defeated 11-time Fed Cup Champions, the Czech Republic, lifting Romania to the Fed Cup World Group Semifinals for the first time since 1973. She is the reigning French Open Champion, is a 4-time Grand Slam Finalist, owns 18 WTA Singles titles, and has held the World #1 ranking for a remarkable 64-weeks. Five-years-ago on this court, she came into Doha as the World #10 and defeated 3 fellow top-10 opponents to capture the title. Competing in her 34th career Final – From Romania, please welcome 2014 Qatar Total Open Champion, Simona Halep.