Eugenie Bouchard showed tremendous adversity in a tough match but came up short at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championship Tuesday. Simona Halep was too much to handle after a difficult first set that almost got out of the Canadian’s hands but stayed in it to finish a 7-6(4), 6-4 match on center court at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Stadium.
The two had their fifth meeting with the Romanian holding a two-match winning streak against the Canadian. The former world number one showed her power last week in Doha despite coming up short in the final.
With time to rest, she hoped to have the qualities necessary to deal out a heavy blow to Bouchard. The 24-year-old had a solid win over Vera Lapko keeping the serve just right and answering with big returns. Though she and Halep have a history dating back five years, Bouchard wouldn’t let that be an issue if her game had the right element to be troublesome for the world number three.
She made sure to hold serve after Halep set the pace for the match with a solid response. The Canadian went forward with another solid service hold giving the third seed just one point before evening the score at two all. Despite her attempts to keep the pace going, Halep held the fifth before converting a break to take a 4-2 lead. Just when it looked as if the third seed had control over Bouchard, the 24-year-old responded with a break back and a key hold that got her leveled after the eighth.
They went on to hold serve through the next two games that ultimately led them the distance with Bouchard very much at a level to contend with the former world number one. After Halep took the 11th, the Canadian allowed the Romanian just one point before clinching a tiebreak to be played between the two. They traded off points through four before Halep took the next pair.
Bouchard stayed within a point through nine but the Romanian gave herself the edge before the Canadian miscued on a smash that would put her back within striking distance. Halep had the set in hand after 55 minutes with the Canadian still high with confidence which is what she heard during the break speaking with Michael Joyce.
Her coach expressed his impression of how she handled Halep and that she was very much in it. Despite serving 49 percent, Bouchard won 15 of 20 points on the first serve and succeeded with the second serve returns.
With plenty of qualities, she moved into the second set letting up on serve early but climbed back. Halep made sure that the break chance she had didn’t go to waste and secured the opening lead. Bouchard swept that aside, playing every point that led to her attacking Halep’s serve. She saved three game points but a great finish by Halep allowed her to secure a 2-0 hold.
A real need to stay close to the world number two was huge for Bouchard who defended her serve in what was the longest game of the match. She gave herself chances to secure the AD point and after three breaks and eight minutes, the 24-year-old got the win that cut Halep’s lead in half. She regained lost ground as Bouchard’s intensity was slowly declining to give her the opportunity to be the dominating factor. The Canadian made her fifth double fault which was becoming apparent in the set.
Halep inched ahead and at one point had the opportunity to play for the match. Bouchard wouldn’t let her get that forcing together one more strong service game to sit a game down with the Romanian back on serve for the match. Halep came out in the tenth with a relentless attack that Bouchard couldn’t respond. She witnessed the end of what started out as a good match but concluded with the third seed taking it after 1 hour and 42 minutes.
The match had all the elements for a possible third set but the third seed made it important to end the surge from her opponent who had another terrific performance in Dubai. While Bouchard takes all the good points coming from her time in the desert, the Romanian would prepare for her round of 16 match to come against either Lesia Tsurenko or Lin Zhu.
2019 WTA Dubai Tennis Championships News, Schedule, Results, Updates and more on SportskeedaPublished 19 Feb 2019, 19:16 IST