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Dubai Tennis Championships, Simona Halep vs Elena Rybakina final: Preview, head-to-head, match schedule and more

  • Can Halep win her first title of the season today?
Shruti Sinha
ANALYST
Preview
Modified 22 Feb 2020, 15:28 IST

Simona Halep
Simona Halep

Simona Halep did not start her title challenge at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2020 in the best way possible but slowly got better as the WTA Premier tournament progressed. In her first two matches, she was stretched to the distance by lower-ranked Ons Jabeur and the seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.

With the latter having defeated her last month, it was an acid test for the Wimbledon champion. Sabalenka put Halep in a spot of bother by racing away to a first-set lead. But the former French Open winner managed to turn the tables even after that sloppy start to take the win in three sets. That particular win freed up Halep mentally and it gave her the conviction she needs in her quest to win the Dubai title for the second time.

The World No. 2 thus did not face any hassle in her semi-final clash with qualifier Jennifer Brady. She raced out of the blocks and never backed off from attacking the Brady serve. With five breaks of serve and having conceded none, the Romanian finished her masterclass performance with a 6-2, 6-0 win that took only 62 minutes to complete.

It was reminiscent of the version of Halep who turned up at the Wimbledon Championships final last summer against Serena Williams -- fearless, hungry and highly motivated. The former World No. 1 looks ready to settle for nothing less than the title when she takes the court today.

Having said that, Halep also cannot afford even a tiny bit of complacency for she faces a spirited 19-year-old who has been fast climbing up the charts. Endowed with an aggressive game, Elena Rybakina has been on a roll this year and has reached her fourth final of the season in Dubai.

The quality of opponents that the Russian-born Kazakh has defeated this week speaks volumes of her talent and has made it certain that hers is a name we would be hearing often in the future. Rybakina toppled the reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and then went on to stop the second seed Karolina Pliskova as well. Both performances oozed brilliance from the teenager's racquet and were a testimony of her tremendous belief in herself.

Rybakina also has a 1-0 lead over Halep after the two-time Grand Slam champion retired in their solitary face-off so far in Wuhan last year. Rybakina would use her newfound confidence and her barrage of attacking groundstrokes to put Halep out of her comfort zone but to do it consistently against a veteran known for her spectacular movement on the court is a huge ask.

Here's all you need to know about Dubai Tennis Championships:

Tournament: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

Category: WTA Premier

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City: Dubai, UAE

Venue: Aviation Club Tennis Centre

Prize money: $2,908,770

Match schedule: (1) Simona Halep (ROU) vs (SE) Elena Rybakina (KAZ) final match not before 8:30 pm IST on February 22, 2020

Live Telecast: There will be no live telecast in India

Live Scores: Click here

Head-to-head: Rybakina leads 1-0


Published 22 Feb 2020, 15:28 IST
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