Doha: Halep bails on title defense. Draw shook-up.

Shortly after winning her 10th career title in Dubai, Simona Halep announced that she would not return to Doha to defend her Qatar Total Open title. Dubai is already Halep’s second title of the year – she won Shenzhen during the first week of the season.

Simona Halep. Defending champion.
Simona Halep. Defending champion.

Last year, after her win in Doha, she would go on to reach the Madrid Finals, became a Grand Slam Finalist for the first time at Roland Garros, won the Bucharest title, faced Serena Williams in the final of the WTA Finals in Singapore, and ultimately finished the year as the World #3. Amazingly, she’s won all 10 of her titles in just the past 20-months; taking less than 2-years to become a top-3 player. Remarkable.

With Simona’s withdrawl before main-draw play, the WTA was forced to shift positions in the draw. Caroline Wozniacki now takes over Halep’s vacanct real-estate on the other side of the draw, while Ekaterina Makarova fills-in Wozniacki’s vacancy. Makarova now enjoys a first-round bye and will face either Lucie Safarova or Sam Stosur in the Round of 16. Carla Suarez Navarro now moves into Makarova’s former position and will face Fed Cup teammate Garbine Muguruza in the First round. And finally – with Suarez Navarro’s move – Elina Svitolina will now face either a qualifier or lucky-loser in the First round.

Qatar Total Open 2015. Revised Draw. First Round.

[1] P.Kvitova d Bye
Qualifier vs. J.Jankovic
K.Pliskova vs. Qualifier
[9] CS.Navarro vs. G.Muguruza

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[5] E.Makarova d Bye
Lucie Safarova vs. Sam Stosur
[WC] O.Jabeur vs. Z.Diyas
Qualifier vs. [6] A.Petkovic

[7] V. Williams vs. C.Dellacqua
BZ.Strycova vs. S.Lisicki
S.Kuznetsova vs. F.Pennetta
[4] A.Radwanska d Bye

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[8] A.Kerber vs. [WC] V.Azarenka
Qualifier vs. E.Svitolina
Qualifier vs. A.Cornet
[3] C.Wozniacki (DEN) d Bye

Sunday also saw Germany’s Julia Georges withdraw from Qualifying with a “viral illness.” Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk stepped-in as Georges’ alternate, and won her First round Qualifying match over Kristina Mladenovic.

Mladenovic and Timea Babos were late arrivals for the Qualifying draw here in Doha. On Saturday, they won the doubles title in Dubai…then took the first flight to Doha for qualifying. This meant they’d each have to win TWO matches on Sunday to compete for a spot in the main draw on Monday.

As I said earlier, Mladenovic fell to alternate Olga Savchuk. Savchuck would go-on to face Daria Gavrilova about an hour later, and fall in three sets. She spent over 3-hours on the court playing Sunday’s two matches.

Timea Bobos would win her First round qualifying match on Sunday, after Marina Erakovic retired down 0-3 in the second set; but later Sunday night, Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova would end Timea’s run 6-2, 6-4. The Qualifying Finals are now set, with eight ladies competing for four qualifying slots in the Qatar Total Open draw. (See below)

RESULTS: Qatar Total Open 2015. Qualifying First Round.
Timea Babos (HUN) def. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-3, 3-0 (ret)
[ALT] Olga Savchuk (UKR) def. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 7-6(4), 6-0

RESULTS: Qatar Total Open 2015. Qualifying Second Round.
Saisai Zheng (CHN) def. [3] Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3, 6-3
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) def. [5] Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
[6] Kisten Flipkens (BEL) def. Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-4, 6-3
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) def. Timea Babos (HUN) 6-2, 6-4
Daria Gavrilova (RUS) def. Olga Savchuk (UKR) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) def. Francescca Schiavone (ITA) 6-2, 6-3
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) def. Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 6-4, 6-4
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) def. Shahar Peer (ISR) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1

MONDAY. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day One. First Round.
[7] Venus Williams (USA) vs Casey Dellacqua (AUS)
[8] Angelique Kerber (GER) vs [WC] Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs Francesca Pennetta (ITA)
Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs Sam Stosur (AUS)
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Andreja Klepac (SLO) / Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) vs [4] Racquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA)

MONDAY. Qatar Total Open 2015. Day One. Qualifying. Final Round.
Saisai Zheng (CHN) vs Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU)
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) vs Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) vs [6] Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) vs Daria Gavrilova (RUS)