Simona Halep has confirmed she will play in Dubai
Simona Halep has confirmed she will play in Dubai Image Credit: Simona Halep Twitter

Dubai: Simona Halep, a former Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship winner and world No.1 is ready to build upon her magnificent Australian Open adventure as she seeks to reclaim the title she earned in 2015.

The Romanian prepared for the 2020 season by training in Dubai and made an outstanding run to the semi-finals of the year’s first Grand Slam which lifted her to number two on the WTA rankings. It came after an excellent 2019 season that saw her add a Wimbledon trophy to display alongside the one she claimed at Roland Garros a year before.

“We were thrilled to see how Simona Halep performed, not only last year at Wimbledon but throughout 2019,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Dubai Duty Free. “We are also delighted that she has made such a successful start to the new season in Australia and very much look forward to watching her challenge for the title here once again.”

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Simona Halep is a regular to Dubai Image Credit: Gulf News archive

That Wimbledon triumph saw her not only overwhelm Serena Williams in under an hour, as she became the first Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final, and the first Romanian, man or woman, to lift the trophy. She was the 12th woman in the Open Era to win the Wimbledon title on their debut in the final there, and she also became only the fourth active player to reach a Grand Slam final on all surfaces alongside Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters.

“It was my mum’s dream when I was about 10 or 12 years old,” she said of her Wimbledon victory. “She said that if I wanted to do something in tennis then I would have to play the final of Wimbledon. The day came and it was my best match. It was unbelievable.”

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Halep won the Dubai Duty Free title back in 2015

Even though seven-times Wimbledon champion Serena began as the favourite, that actually worked in the Romanian’s favour and the occasion wasn’t as difficult to handle as the 2018 French final had been.

“It was different, totally different,” she said after her victory. “The pressure was much bigger in the French Open. The desire was really crazy and the fact that it was my first Grand Slam was special. Also, (at Wimbledon) I was facing Serena and had nothing to lose. I said that if I’m going to win, it’s gonna be something huge. If I lose it’s normal. So I didn’t think about the result that much and it helped me to be more relaxed on court.”

When she returned home, she was greeted by an incredible 30,000 people at the National Stadium in Bucharest as the Romanian Presidential Administration announced that she would receive the highest state distinction of the country, the Order of the Romanian Star.

As well as garnering praise from the very highest in her land she has drawn admiration from the best in her profession, with Novak Djokovic revealing that he was especially impressed by how she dealt with the pressure she had to face at Wimbledon.

“She’s got it all. She’s got the game, she’s got the fighting spirit and now she’s got the experience,” said the 17-times Grand Slam champion. “It was really impressive how she handled herself in her first Wimbledon final against an all-time great, Serena, who is a fierce competitor, who has won Wimbledon titles many, many times and has been in that position many times before. Simona showed why she’s a great champion.”

Tickets for the February 17-29 tournament are available at www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com