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By Tennis Now | Saturday, January 6, 2018

 
Simona Halep

Simona Halep won her 16th career singles title and first doubles title on the same day in Shenzhen.

Photo credit: Shenzhen Open/IMG

Simona Halep celebrated the New Year with a double dose of championships.

The world No. 1 defeated defending champion Katerina Siniakova, 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 in 74 minutes to capture the Shenzhen Open singles title.

Watch: Svitolina Sweeps To 10th Career Title

Then Halep returned to the court partnering Romanian compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu to the doubles crown with a 1-6, 6-1, 10-8 win over Siniakova and Czech partner Barbora Krejcikova.

It is Halep’s maiden doubles triumph in her second final and the fifth of Begu’s career out of eight finals.

Simona Halep

After a four hour rain delay, the singles final was played at the indoor tennis stadium of the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Centre.

The top seed did not face a single break point and won 70 percent of her service points in a powerful first set display but had her serve broken three times in the second as her 21-year-old Czech opponent staged a comeback.

However, the 26-year-old Halep showed just why she was the world No.1 in the final set, winning 24 out of 30 points as she served her opponent a bagel to complete the victory in some style.

The trophy marks Halep’s sixteenth career title and second here in Shenzhen after her win in 2015.

“It’s been a great week for me as I’ve been playing very well," Halep said. "It was a difficult match and (Siniakova) played very well. She beat Sharapova which is great. I know that feeling.

"I think we had a great match today. I tried everything to win. I was a little bit less nervous and just tried to enjoy the moment even if we are playing indoors. It’s not easy but we did our job and I’m happy that I could win the first title of the year,”

En route to the title, Halep defeated American Nicole Gibbs in the first round, China’ Duan Ying-Ying in the second, Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinal and fourth-seeded compatriot Begu in yesterday’s semifinal.

The Romanian only dropped two sets the entire tournament.

World No. 47 Siniakova, who defeated Halep in the second round here last year, paid tribute to her opponent’s performance.

“I didn’t play as well as I did last year in the final but Simona really played well today," Siniakova said. "It’s a good start to the season for me, but of course, a better start for Simona. Last season I won two titles after making the final here so hopefully I can get more titles again this year.”

Having lost the singles final to Halep just forty minutes before starting the doubles final, 21-year-old Siniakova was gunning for revenge as she and partner Krejcikova, who are in their first finals as a pair, shut out their Romanian opponents for the first five games to race to a 5-0 lead and take the set.

The second set was an exact reversal of the first as the Romanian duo took the first five games on the trot. Begu, a year older than Halep at 27-years-old, was imperious at the net and prevented the Czechs from playing their typical aggressive game.

With the match being moved indoors due to rainy weather conditions, the super tie-breaker was a fiery affair as the lack of Hawkeye technology in the indoor arena led to disputes over line calls.

Simona Halep

There were four mini-breaks in the first six points as the pairs kept pace with each other but the Romanian duo crucially won four of the next five points to take a 7-4 lead before completing the victory on their second match point.

“It’s a pleasure playing with Simona," said Begu, the world No. 38 in doubles. "We are good friends and she is, of course, the singles number one in the world. Thanks Simona for playing with me and I also want to thank our team for their strong support.”

“After the first set I was not cool at all. I just wanted to win the match and I did everything I could," Halep said. "I want to thank Begu for inviting me to play doubles. It was a pleasure and a great week. It’s the first time in my life that I have won both titles. It’s a great feeling. I also want to thank our team for supporting us all the way. It has been a really long day.” 

This was the first time since February 2009 at Bogota that the singles and doubles final of a tour-level event featured the singles finalists later meeting head-to-head in the doubles final.

This is only the fourth tournament that Halep and Begu have played in the doubles draw together and their best result after making the semifinals at Madrid last season. Following today’s win, they boast an impressive 9-3 win-loss record and are set to see their doubles rankings rise considerably with the 280 points accumulated.


 

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