Doha – Belgium’s Elise Mertens claimed the biggest win of her career on
Saturday, surprisingly coming from a set down to beat world number three
Simona Halep and clinch the Qatar Open.
The world number 21 won 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, despite being outclassed in
the first set, overcoming an eight-minute medical timeout for back pain
in the second set, and losing 18 consecutive points at one stage in the
An overwhelmed Mertens said after her victory over the French Open
champion: “Simone is a great player, everybody worked hard and it’s nice
to get the trophy.”
Her win, in a little over two hours, was her third victory over a top
ten player in Doha this week, and her second over a Grand Slam
champion, as she beat Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals.
Qatar is the fifth title of Mertens’ career but notably her first at a Premier-level event.
Mertens had started nervously, lost her opening service game, and the first set in just 32 minutes.
At 2-0 down in the second, it looked like it was going to turn into a routine victory for Halep.
But Mertens broke back, then called for medical attention and was the stronger player for the remainder of the game.
A clearly fading Halep, who played in the Fed Cup last weekend when
she led Romania into the semi-finals for the first time, also called for
medical assistance for treatment on her right foot.
“Honestly, I wanted to lift this beautiful trophy but Elise deserved it very much,” said Halep, who won the Qatar title in 2014.
Despite her defeat she will head back to number two in the rankings on the back of her performances in Doha.