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Mertens defeats Halep to win Qatar Open title

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Belgian Elise Mertens poses on the podium next to President of the Qatar Tennis Federation (QTF) Nasser al-Khelaifi, after her victory over Romanian Simona Halep in their WTA Qatar Open final tennis match in Doha on February 16, 2019. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

Elise Mertens has claimed the biggest title of her career by beating top seed Simona Halep to win the Qatar Open.

Mertens, 23, recovered from a set and a break down – losing 18 points in a row at one stage in the second set – to beat the world number three 3-6 6-4 6-3.

World number 21 Mertens also overcame a lengthy medical time-out for a back issue in the first set.

“Simona is a great player and it’s nice to get the trophy,” the Belgian said.

Halep, 27, who last won the Qatar title in 2014, said: “Honestly, I wanted to lift this beautiful trophy but Elise deserved it very much.”

Mertens’ triumph over the Romanian was her third win over a top 10 player in Doha.

She had already beaten Angelique Kerber and Kiki Bertens, a year after she was knocked out of the tournament in the first round.

Halep outclassed her opponent in the opening set, but Mertens powered back into the match to force a decider.

The players traded breaks in the third set, but Mertens broke in the fifth game of the final set to make it 3-2 – the 12th break of serve in 24 games in the match.

Halep tried to rally, but at 5-3 and appearing to be hampered by an injury, she lost her serve, handing Mertens a famous victory.


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