177 days ago Simona Halep was the champion in Dubai. The two major champion has returned to tennis in Prague this week and has been a woman on a mission as she has picked up her 21st career title and back to back titles either side of a six week forced break.
Halep was down to play Palermo but was anxious over participating with Romania’s cases on the rise and was nervous about travelling.
The Romanian really got into the week in Prague and has done her chances of becoming a third time major winner whether that is in New York or Paris no harm at all. Either in Europe we have seen some top players return this last week and no one has been more convincing than Halep despite a bit of a shoulder problem.
It was a shaky start to the final for the Romanian as she immediately dropped her serve and slipped 0-2 down to the third seed Elise Mertens. Elise’ lead was a short one as the top seed fought back immediately and ran away with the set sealing it with a strong serve down the middle to take the opener 6-2.
Halep’s level to reel off six games in a row was really good and positive to see such front foot and productive tennis first tournament back after over 5 months.
6 in a row became 7 in the row as Halep’s groundstrokes continued to blow Mertens away and broke the Belgian once again to lead 6-2 1-0.
A slight swing in momentum as Elise broke Halep back straight away and had to dig deep to hold onto her next serve and for the first time since 2-0 in the first led in a set.
Simona fought back and looked to gain that momentum once again but started to miss a little bit more often and up 4-3 found herself in trouble.
Halep was quickly 0-40 down and despite saving two points the third was Mertens’ and the Belgian levelled the set once again.
The serve of both players especially the second was a little too loose and Halep found another break point opportunity but Mertens once again found herself ahead and pressure on the Halep serve at 4-5.
From 0-15 Halep did her bit very well to hold for 5-5 and was given a look at Mertens second serve who was down 0-30…
0-30 quickly became 0-40 and then 30-40 and Mertens brought incredible defence but broke Mertens to lead once more and serve for her second consecutive title 177 days apart.
Back to back titles many months apart topping off a wonderful return to tennis for Simona Halep!