2020 celebrated 20 years of WTA Tennis down in Dubai.
The number 20 seemed to be the centre of attention going into the final.
Top seed Simona Halep was in search for her 20th career title, 20 year old Elena Rybakina was in search for her 20th tour win in a year which has already seen her feature in three finals and winning one of them!
As ever when Simona Halep is action, the Halep fans gather with their chants of SI-MO-NA and that was no different as she went to serve for the first time.
Elena has been pretty unbothered by what has gone on around her and just gets on with her tennis and showed great composure in her first game.
In the early exchanges it was Rybakina who definitely looked more comfortable, Halep was doing the scrambling still maintain some control on her service games. At 2-3 40-15 the Romanian made life and was broken following a catalogue of errors with the top seed not finding her forehand as yet.
Simona Halep continued to be involved despite not finding her best tennis, two set points were saved following a double fault and stunning inside-in forehand return before creating a break point of her own.
An ace to save it and a double fault to create another break point for Halep which she couldn’t take either! A wasted short second serve return from Halep sealed the set for the 20 year old who took a 6-3 lead.
Simona Halep had fought back from some tricky challenges so far this week but Elena Rybakina hasn’t lost this year after winning the first set.
As you’d expect Halep would continue to hustle and serving first suited her in the second set as nerves would settle in to Rybakina’s game in what is her biggest final to date.
A big backhand down the line behind Rybakina set up the Romanian’s forehand and she found herself looking at three big break points. A forehand long from the 20 year old sealed the break with Rybakina’s coach looking at her and shrugging his shoulders minutes after he told her to stay calm, focused and not to give away cheap points.
A quick hold from Halep sealed the break for a 4-1 lead within a couple of minutes!
The tennis from the racket of Simona Halep continued to get better and better, the accuracy of a forehand down the line winner followed by a backhand down the line winner set up two break points.
Rybakina steadied the tide of games against her to get back on the board and potentially salvage something from a wild second set!
Wow! Out of no where Halep’s service game collapsed, double faulting at 0-30 gifted three break points of her own which were taken!
Simona Halep struck back in style! A 10 minute game with three break points saved and the Romanian took a 5-3 lead.
Despite some big backhand winners from Elena it was a wide backhand from the 20 year old which sealed the set for Simona Halep taking the final to a decider!
At 1-1 in the third set the 20 year old orchestrated her way through a difficult game to lead for the first time in the match for some time!
The first break went the way of Rybakina but as we know with Simona Halep never count her out!
Back to back breaks of serve and suddenly the third and final set was back on serve…
The serving to stay in the match question was asked of Simona Halep at 4-5, the top seed continued to hang on and level for 5-5 with Rybakina out of challenges!
Just as the tide was turning a lucky net cord the way of Rybakina at 30-30 set up game point at a crucial moment.
Chants of SI-MO-NA continued as the Romanian got to deuce and a forehand wide set herself a break point…
At 6-5 Simona Halep would serve for the title in Dubai!
A dead net cord gave Rybakina 0-30…
Forehand firing once again from Halep for 15-30!
A passing forehand up the line with Rybakina at the net.. 30-30!
Rybakina wasn’t done yet with a big backhand winner down the line to find a break point…
Hustle form Halep! Deuce!
Tentative second serve got eaten up and a tie-break would decide the match..
1-0 Rybakina as Halep shouts towards her team.
2-2, a forehand long from Halep with the tie-break on serve.
The hustle of Halep! 3-3!
Second serve of Halep’s got eaten up once again with Rybakina taking a mini-break at 4-3!
She won’t go away! Big and brave forehand from Halep sealed 4-4!!
4-4… Rybakina stopped a rally for a challenge and was right to! 5-4 Rybakina!
Wow! A short second serve again from Halep but this time Rybakina shanked it wide, if anything she had too much time! 5-5
A pulled back brought the crowd to it’s feet as Halep found a match point!
SI-MO-NA rung around in Dubai but could she get that point?
SHE HUSTLED AND WON!!!! 3-6 6-3 7-6!!
A special week for Simona Halep, a 20th title but also she holds a record that not even Venus, Serena or Sharapova have… Simona Halep has (as of Monday) spent 318 weeks in the top 10 in the WTA rankings which is the highest out of active players and 10th longest in WTA history.