Dubai, UAE (dpa) – Simona Halep struggled before closing out victory over Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in the Dubai Classic Saturday to win the 10th title of her career.
Halep, the top seed, twice served for the win only to miss out in a second set featuring eight breaks of serve including each of the last six games.
The crowd favourite supported by scores of loudly cheering Romanians waving national flags, finally stopped the rot as the set went to a tiebreaker, with Halep earning a third match point 18 minutes after her first.
She made it count, ripping a forehand down-the-line winner after one and three-quarter hours.
“This is a big title for me,” the 2014 Roland Garros finalist said. “I can only say I’m really happy for this victory.”
The Romanian, who will move to third in the world on Monday, beat an opponent who came to the court with 144 aces this season.
Halep added the trophy to one she took at the start of the year in Shenzhen.
She finished with just one ace and seven double-faults – including one on her second match point – while Pliskova was held to just five aces.
“I practised my returns,” Halep said. “I just did everything I could to win. I didn’t serve very well but I stayed focused on each point.”
Pliscova, who stands 17-5 this season, said she was pleased with her fighting effort.
“I’m very proud, I put everything into the match,” said the player who was treated off-court for what appeared to beck problems after the third game of the second set.
The title is the second for Halep in the Gulf after winning Doha last February.
Pliskova was playing in her eighth WTA final and now stands 3-5. She came to Dubai after a semi-final last week in Antwerp and also played the Sydney final in January against Petra Kvitova.