Simona Halep -02- (ROU) def  Anastasija Sevastova -15- (LAT) 64 63
If Simona Halep is hurting, you wouldn’t know it by watching her play. The only indication we’ve had that she’s still suffering from the foot injury picked-up during a punishing run at the Australian Open, is her verbal admissions during post-match press conferences.
In her first match yesterday, she easily dismissed Ekaterina Makarova from the 2nd-Round, winning the final seven games decisively.
Tonight, she dispatched the World #15 Anastasija Sevastova with pinpoint precision, steady tactics and three timely service breaks.
The sports top ranking must mean something to Simona
If Halep’s injured foot truly is an issue, there’s only one reason she’d commit to a Premier-5 event before the Premier Mandatory swing in the United States: Losing the World #1 ranking to Wozniacki in Melbourne pissed her off.
Here in Doha, she’s told media that she’s not even thinking about the rankings. She simply wants to compete, to test her foot, to stay in rhythm competing rather than rehabbing.
Draw your own conclusions, but based on her two wins so far, it would appear either the injury isn’t too serious, or she is “John Wayne-ing” through the pain to keep Caroline in the crosshairs.
Halep and Sevastova
Both Simona and Anastasija have been at this for a long time. Tonight was their 9th career meeting. Simona has now won six of those matches, including a 60 60 victory in the 2016 Bucharest Final. Ouch.
Tonight’s clash was far more competitive. Sevastova opened with a break, then held. Halep won the next three games. At 4-5, before Anastasija served to stay in the set, she called her coach to the court for a quick pep-talk. It didn’t work. Simona broke at love and stole the set.
In the second, Sevastova jumped ahead 3-2 with a break before the second changeover. Four games later, the match was over.
Up Next: [Q] Cici Bellis -48- (USA)
So far, Bellis has been the talk of the tournament. She’s won five matches to reach the Quarterfinals. After two qualifying wins, she upset Kasatkina and Keys before earning her first career top-5 win over defending champion Karolina Pliskova this afternoon.
Tomorrow’s match will be Halep and Bellis’ first. No doubt, the 18-year-old American is excited to get a shot at scoring the two biggest wins of her career back-to-back, on a surface that clearly suits her game.
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. Competing here in Doha for the 5th time, from Romania – Please welcome 2014 Qatar Total Open Champion, and the #2 Player in the World, Simona Halep
This 27-year-old’s story is one of remarkable perseverence. 5-years-ago, she retired from the game; but returned in 2015 with a fierce determination that has catapulted her to a career-high ranking of #15 in the World. Last year, she won her 2nd WTA Singles title, reached her second consecutive US Open Quarterfinal, cracked the WTA’s top-15 for the first time, and ended the season with a Semifinal run in her debut WTA Elite Trophy appearance. This year, she started 2018 by reaching the Semifinals in Brisbane, and last week – with 5 victories in Estonia – helped lift Latvia to the Fed Cup World Group II Playoffs this April. Competing in her 3rd Qatar Total Open, from Latvia – Please welcome World #15, Anastasija Sevastova