Quarterfinal. Day 5. Simona Halep

Emcee. Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018 / Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
[2] Simona Halep -02- (ROU) def [Q] Cici Bellis -48- (USA) 60 64

Weird day. Simona Halep only allowed Cici Bellis four games during their Quarterfinal. Shortly after the on-court interview, Simona convened with her doctor, then walked into her press conference and withdrew from the tournament.

According to Halep, the injury she sustained during a punishing two weeks at the Australian Open had finally arrived at a point that required rest before the Premiere Mandatory swing in the United States.

Ask rabid followers of the WTA, and they’ll tell you Simona played hurt to keep the World #1 ranking within her crosshairs. After falling to Wozniacki in Melbourne’s Final, not only did she lose her third championship match at a Major, she gave-up the sport’s top-position.

Apparently, a Semifinal Premier-5 finish equaled “mission accomplished.” With Wozniacki not playing again until Indian Wells, there’s a decent chance Halep could regain the #1-spot between now and then – unless, of course, Caroline captures the title this week in Doha.

Career best week for 18-year-old American Cici Bellis

You have to hand it to Bellis. She was just one spot away from direct entry into the main draw, but was forced to play through qualifying. Those two matches actually helped her gain rhythm and momentum on Doha’s quick surface. She went on to upset Daria Kasatkina in Round-1, came back from a set down to defeat US Open Finalist Madison Keys, then earned her first top-5 win with a straight-sets victory over Karolina Pliskova.

The 18-year-old American is on her way to breaking back into the WTA’s top-40. Last Summer, after a Semifinal run in Stanford, and top-10 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Rogers Cup, she hit a career-high ranking of World #35.

Garbine Muguruza reaches the Final with Simona’s withdrawal

It’s a bummer for Bellis the way this worked out. Sure, it would have been nice if Halep had withdrawn before the Quarterfinal. But the truth is, it took Cici 40-minutes just to get on the board during the match. She played some remarkable games in the second and broke the World #2 twice, but Halep was simply too good…even if hobbled by injury.

With Halep’s withdrawal, the World #4 Garbine Muguruza will compete in her 9th career Tour-level Final.

Emcee Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018. Quarterfinal. Day-5. Simona Halep

Simona Halep’s Press Conference

SIMONA HALEP: Well, I am surprised that I could play three matches and to win them. I felt pain every day, so it was not easy to manage it. I didn’t have much time to recover before this tournament. But today was too much, and I decided to stop.

Q. So you’re — you’re withdrawing?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. They don’t know? Yeah. So I did it. Yeah. I withdraw because I cannot play anymore and it’s going to be dangerous if I force it.

Q. So it’s the foot?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, the same foot like in Melbourne.

Q. And have you talked to the doctors back home about it throughout the week or is it just about — is the pain increasing?
SIMONA HALEP: Today it was worse, and that’s why I took this decision. It’s not easy, but I talked to the doctor, my doctor. He said that I didn’t have enough time to recover. I stayed only a few days, and I need more. The MRI shows that I have fluid and also tendonitis at the fourth toe. So I have just to take care of it and thinking about the health first.

Q. Do you know how long you will be out of tennis? Do you know what treatment you’re going to have? Could be a few weeks or you’re just resting?
SIMONA HALEP: Definitely until Indian Wells I will not play anything. I will decide before the tournament if I will be able to play. For the moment I cannot say much. I have to take day by day and to see if I can recover until Indian Wells.

Q. And does it require just rest or is there other treatment?
SIMONA HALEP: First I need rest, because I didn’t stay, and this injury needs rest.

Q. Simona, a few days ago you said you don’t want to think about the injury. In hindsight now would you think that you have pushed yourself too much?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I did. I did this week, and today I felt that I should stop because it’s better.

Simona Halep

4-years-ago, this 26-year-old won her 8th WTA Singles title right here in Doha. Since then, she’s won 8 MORE, has reached three Grand Slam Finals; and last year, ended the season as the #1 Player in the World. Her consistency is extraordinary. She broke into the WTA’s top-5 shortly after earning the 2014 Doha title, and has remained inside the top-5 for nearly four consecutive years. She now owns 29 career wins over fellow top-10 opponents, including a victory over World #1 Serena Williams at the 2014 WTA Finals Singapore. Through to the Qatar Total Open Semifinals for the second time, from Romania – Please welcome 2014 Qatar Total Open Champion, and the #2 Player in the World, Simona Halep

Cici Bellis

Yesterday, she upset defending Doha Champion Karolina Pliskova in straight-sets, earning the first top-5 win of her career. At just 18-years-old, she is the youngest player ranked inside the top-50 on the WTA Tour. Last year at this time, she earned her first top-10 win, defeating World #6 Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the Quarters in Dubai. Then in May, she reached the 3rd-Round at Roland Garros, went on to reach her first career tour-level Semifinal in Mallorca, and enjoyed another Semifinal run in Stanford. By August, she reached a career-high ranking of #35 in the world, earning the distinction of Newcomer of the Year. As a qualifier, she’s won 5 consecutive matches to reach tonight’s Quarterfinal. From the United States – Please welcome, Cici Bellis