The trophy ceremony in Doha tonight was lovely in its simplicity. At the end, the champion and runner-up stood with two escorts as a fireworks display went off. Then, one by one, a woman moved out of the scene until all that was left was champion Simona Halep, the trophy and the blazing colored lights in the sky.
It was satisfying to see both Halep and finalist Angelique Kerber fight for the title. It wasn't that long ago that Kerber gave us her first "I'm not a fluke" season, and now, Halep is delivering "You think you're not a fluke?" right back to her. Playing with both heels bandaged, the Romanian player, who will be number 9 in the world when the new rankings are published, defeated Kerber 6-2, 6-3. In doing so, Halep knocked off her sixth top 10 player in a row.
The Doha title is the biggest one that Halep has won. Setting the scene for what would be yet another confidence-filled battle, Halep elected to receive and then broke Kerber at love in the first game. She went on to break her opponent three more times. Kerber saw only four break opportunities but failed to capitalize on any of them. Halep's serve improved during her week in Doha, which made her even more of a threat than usual, also. Against Kerber, she took some risks with her serve, and--it should be noted--Kerber's return of serve was excellent.
But it was Halep who handled the big points better and who kept the errors in check. It was a very fluid performance, and one which capped off a run which included defeats of both world number 7 Sara Errani and world number 4 Aga Radwanska. This is Halep's seventh WTA title (six of them were earned in 2013), and her third premier level title.
Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai won the doubles title, defeating Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4, 6-0.
Meanwhile, in Dubai, Eugenie Bouchard, Camile Giorgi, Flavia Pennetta, Annika Beck, and Karolina Pliskova are among those who are still surviving in qualifying. Among those who are not: Tsvetana Pironkova, Andrea Petkovic, Karin Knapp, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.