Simona Halep won her second title of 2015 as she defeated Karolina Pliskova at the Dubai Duty Free Championships. Halep served for the match twice in the second set before eventually closing out a 6-4, 7-6 victory.
The win also pushes the Romanian back to No.3 in the rankings. “I am very happy right now,” she told the WTA Tour website. “I cannot explain in words how I feel. It’s an amazing title for me. It’s very important for my career.”
Roared on by a strong Romanian contingent, Halep easily won the first set in 41 minutes, before Pliskova stormed back. The second set was much more competitive as both players battled it out for over an hour. Pliskova showed why she’s a future star as she matched Halep shot-for-shot.
Unfortunately, at 4-4 in the tiebreak, the Czech blinked first as Simona capitalised and won the next three points. The win was sealed on her third match point with a forehand winner.
Sara Errani defeated rising star Anna Schmiedlova to win her eighth singles title in Rio de Janeiro. Schmiedlova had never been to the quarter-finals of a tournament, let alone the final, but you wouldn’t have known in the first set.She more than held her own and, at one point, held set point until Errani came alive.
The Italian breezed through the tie-break and the final set. “The first set was tough. We played more than an hour,” said Errani. “We were both fighting hard in that set – she played very well and not giving me anything, really.” The victory pushes Errani up to No.12 in the rankings, even closer to returning to the top 10.
David Ferrer won his second title of the season as he beat Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3 in the Rio Open final. Ferrer also created history as it is his seventh title in the ‘Golden Swing’ in Latin America.The Spaniard is a three-time champion in Buenos Aires and Acapulco.
“I’m really happy,” he told the ATP website. “It’s my 23rd tournament win and I never won here before in Rio. I’m very happy for that.” It was a bit of an anti-climax for Fognini as he handed Rafael Nadal his first semi-final defeat in 12 years the previous day.
It was an all-French affair in the Open 13 final in Marseilles as Gilles Simon defeated Gael Monfils 6-4, 1-6, 7-6. It’s Simon’s second title at the tournament and the twelfth of his career.
It was a tense match as Simon withstood a barrage of aces from Monfils and five breaks of serve. It was the unforced error count that cost Monfils as he racked up 54 of them, including 5 double faults. Simon is now second, behind Yannick Noah, for most titles won by a Frenchman in the Open era; Noah won 23 titles during his 19-year career.
Ivo Karlovic defeated Donald Young to win the Delray Beach Open and become the oldest champion in the tournament’s history. It was an early birthday present for the Croatian as he recorded a 6-3, 6-3 victory over surprise finalist Young. Karlovic never dropped serve and totalled 91 aces throughout the tournament.
“It is unbelievable,” he said afterwards. “It was really satisfying also for me to do this at my age.” The 35 year-old is the oldest winner on the ATP Tour since Jimmy Connors won in Tel Aviv in 1989 aged 37.
Fun Fact: All the winners of the men’s tournaments last week are 30+ – Ivo Karlovic (35), David Ferrer (32), Gilles Simon (30).
This Week’s Tournament: Dubai Duty Free Championships (ATP); Argentina Open (ATP); Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco (ATP & WTA); Qatar Total Open (WTA)
Federer Expands Clay Schedule
Roger Federer released his schedule for the clay season last week. As well as playing the Monte Carlo Masters, Madrid Open and Italian Open, Federer has added the inaugural Istanbul Open to his list.
The Istanbul Open takes place from April 27 to May 5, the week before Madrid. The last time Federer played four tournaments before the French Open was in 2008. The Swiss has a few ranking points to defend on clay and it’s a big opportunity for him to close the gap on the No.1 ranking.
Laura Robson is back hitting but there is no set time on when she’ll return to the tour. Robson was supposed to make an appearance at Surprise, Arizona earlier this month, but opted against this. Rumour has it it’s a precautionary measure by her team and not a setback.
The 21 year-old hasn’t played since January 2014 after injuring her wrist. Jamie Hampton has also been off the tour since January last year. Hampton underwent two hip surgeries and began hitting again last month. Like Robson, she hasn’t said when she will return. The American reached a career high ranking of No.24 in 2013.
Juan Martin del Potro is keeping everyone updated on his wrist recovery. He posted a video of him doing hydrotherapy to Facebook last week. Del Potro is training with fellow Argentine Gabriela Sabatini in Miami. No return date is scheduled but, since he’s training on the hard courts, it’s suspected that he could be back for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells or the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Así termino una excelente semana: el mejor entrenamiento con la más grande, mi amiga Gabi.///What a way to finish a great week: the best practice with my friend, the one and only, Gaby.
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena