Simona Halep will fear no-one – and that includes formidable opponents such as top seed and multi Grand Slam champion Serena Williams , as she bids to add the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown to her fast-growing list of titles.
The most successful Romanian woman the game has ever seen stunned the tennis world in October when she overwhelmed the world number one in the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore, giving up just two games.
“I have no words to explain how I feel and how I felt on court,” said Halep after her victory. “It was an amazing match for me. I played really well. I was aggressive, and continued to just hit the balls and to stay close to the line, because I knew that I don’t have any chance if I stay back.
“I knew before the match that I have nothing to lose. After this match I learned many things. I learned that I have to believe in my chance and just go on court to play my game. It means a lot, this match.”
Halep went on to reach the final where Williams was able to avenge her defeat in the last match of the year, but she resumed her winning ways this season by claiming the ninth title of her career in Shenzhen. Such success brings more expectations, and she will arrive in Dubai with everyone eager to see how well one of the most exciting players on the WTA Tour can perform.
“There will be more pressure on me now, but I have to believe that I can do many more results,” she said. “Last year I did some good results but now it’s another year and another start, and I’ve had a good start, winning in Shenzhen and playing better match by match.”
It is certain that Halep will be able to improve on what has been only a modest record so far in Dubai. In 2012 she qualified before losing to defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, she defaulted her second round qualifying match in 2013, and last year she had to retire against Alize Cornet in the first round due to an Achilles injury.
“Simona Halep has experienced an astonishing rise in the rankings over the past two years, reaching a peak of number two in the world during 2014,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers. “She is now a favourite to win any tournament she enters no matter what the opposition, and it will be interesting to see if she can repeat the success she has enjoyed elsewhere at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.”
Halep has already proved that she can perform under pressure and at the highest level, following up her quarter-final at the 2014 Australian Open by reaching the final at Roland Garros where she was denied her first Grand Slam title by the vastly more experienced Maria Sharapova. She earned two titles, in Doha and Bucharest, and as well as reaching the finals of the French Open and the WTA Finals she finished as runner-up in Madrid.
“Simona’s win over Serena Williams in Singapore was well earned and together with her success elsewhere it confirmed that she will be one of the strongest title contenders when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships gets underway next month,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “But she will be in competition against seven other members of the world’s top 10 in what is one of the most outstanding fields outside of the Grand Slams.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships features eight of the top 10 and includes reigning champion Venus Williams as well as former winners Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova.
The tournament, which also features a star-studded ATP World Tour event featuring Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, takes place between 15th and 28th February and is held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are on sale at the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at http://www.timeouttickets.com/. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.