Nice jump. Despite the strained Achilles, Simona Halep was on a mission this week to capture her first title of the year and seventh of her career. Playing through the pain in Sunday’s Final, she jumped out to an early break on Germany’s Angelique Kerber…and never looked back. When the smoke cleared, after just an hour and six minutes, Halep won the match 6-2, 6-3 on a Kerber double-fault.
With the win, Halep’s ranking climbs from #10 to #9 in the world. On the “Road to Singapore” leaderboard, she jumped from #15 to #3. With Kerber’s appearance in the Final, she moved from #9 to #8 in the world and climbed one position to #4 on the “Road to Singapore” leaderboard.
Simona after the match: “It’s amazing for me, because when I came here I didn’t expect that I can play final and to win also, because I came from indoors court, Fed Cup. So it’s amazing moment for me. I think it’s the best, because it’s the biggest tournament which I won. So it’s incredible here in Doha. The presentation of the trophy was very nice.”
Halep won six titles last year alone, though 2014 has been a bumpy ride. In Sydney, she lost in the first-round to American Madison Keys. Then in Melbourne, she reached her first Grand Slam Quarterfinal, falling to eventual finalist Dominika Cibulkova. At the Paris Indoors, Halep again fell in the first round; then performed brilliantly in Fed Cup Group I Round Robin play, helping advance Romania to the World Group II Playoffs this April. She brought Fed Cup’s momentum into Doha, and after nearly losing in a first round third-set tie-break to Kaia Kanepi, played with aggression and precision through the Final. For the first time in her career, Simona defeated three top-10 players at the same event (Errani, Radwanska and Kerber).
Both Halep and Kerber now head to Dubai for the Duty Free Championships next week, each with opening matches on Tuesday: Angelique drew Ana Ivanovic. Simona drew Alize Cornet of France. We’ll see if they can carry Doha’s momentum into another Finals appearance…a “big ask” with Serena Williams in the field.
In Sunday’s doubles final, Hseih Su-Wei and Peng Shuai dominated Kveta Peschke and Katerina Srebotnik in the Final: 6-4, 6-0. Together, Hseih and Peng are now 10-0 in WTA doubles finals; and this week became the #2 and #1 doubles players in the world, leap-frogging Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. After the match, Peng briefly talked about what an honor it is to become the first player from China, male or female, to attain the world #1 ranking; but focused most of her attention on dedicating the win to a dear friend recently diagnosed with cancer. Hseih and Peng: Great team. Great people.
Sunday was Peschke and Srebotnik’s 21st Final together. Between 2010 and 2012, the two won nine titles, including the 2011 Wimbledon Championship. While Peschke teamed with Anna-Lena Groenefeld most of last year and Srebotnik teamed with Nadia Petrova; after their results together in Doha, Katerina said we’d be seeing more of their partnership in 2014…including next week at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
RESULTS: Qatar Total Open 2014. Day Seven. Singles Final.
 S Halep (ROU) d  A Kerber (GER) 62 63
RESULTS: Qatar Total Open 2014. Day Seven. Doubles Final.
 S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) d  K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 64 60