Halep sets up final date with young star Rybakina

halep, Rybakina, tennis

Dubai - Romanian Halep, winner here in 2015, finally got a straight set win after her previous excursions.

By James Jose

Published: Fri 21 Feb 2020, 9:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 21 Feb 2020, 11:18 PM

Top seed and world No.2 Simona Halep will be eyeing her second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown after setting up a final date with upcoming star Elena Rybakina on Saturday night.
Romanian Halep, winner here in 2015, finally got a straight set win after her previous excursions, by cruising past American qualifier 6-2, 6-0, while Rybakina stormed to her fourth final this season and sixth of her career over the past eight months when she rallied brilliantly to beat eight-seeded Croatian Petr Martic. 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), in the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Halep, who had beaten the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova back in 2015, hardly broke a sweat, easing pasy Brady in 62 minutes.
Kazakhstan's Rybakina, meanwhile, blew hot and blew cold before holding her nerve at crucial moments to see off Martic in two hours and 12 minutes.
"It felt much better than previous matches. I played really well. Everything went in my side. I felt the ball great. I feel like I played the best match since I came here," said a relieved Halep.
Halep, who extended her head-to-head record to 3-0 against Brady, said it was a privilege to play again in the final in Dubai.
"A final, it's a final. It's always a nice opportunity and privilege to play the last match of the tournament. I play for another trophy, so I'm relaxed. I'm focused. I really want it." said the 28-year-old, who had got past Tunisian Ons Jabeur and Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals.
The final against Rybakina presents another tricky test for Halep but she is ready for it.
"It's amazing what she's done already this year. I saw her a little bit during some matches. But I don't have the feeling how she's playing because I think we never played together," Halep said.
"She has a big serve. I have to pay attention on my return and to be like today - confident, aggressive if there is a chance, just fighting. It's the best thing to do now," she added.
Halep, who took her Dubai win record to 11 and her career win record to 502, felt it will be a different style she will be up against.
"Different match for sure because it's a different style. I think Rybakina is not playing that spinny like Brady. It's a different style. But I will do the same. I will do my job. I just want to win it so I will see," explained Halep.
Meanwhile, Rybakina, who won in Bucharest last July and at Hobart last month, apart from runners-up finishes in Nanchang, Shenzhen and St.Petersburg, was tired following the match with both sets going into tie-breakers, but was delighted to make the final.
"So tired, but happy," Rybakina said smiling.
"First set was not easy because she plays really well. She has really good slices. Her serve, it's not flat like I played with Pliskova for example. It's a completely different style of game. It was not easy to start against her. But I tried to work every point. Second set, of course, I was 3-0 down, but I knew it's going to be easier to win this set than play a third one. I wanted to win second so much," she added.
Reaching four finals has been an amazing achievement and Rybakina hoped she can carry it further.
"It's amazing. Hopefully I can continue to play like this this year and next year also," said the 20-year-old, who fired six aces against Martic.

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