WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships: Ana Ivanovic knocks out Simona Halep


On a rain-affected, yes, rain-affected day in Dubai, Ana Ivanovic scored her first top 10 win since last year’s French Open by ousting the number one seed and defending champion, Simona Halep, 7-6(2) 6-2. Ivanovic saved a set point in a super intense opening set that was eventually decided on the tiebreak. There were some great rallies and Halep had the early upper hand, breaking Ivanovic’s serve in the first game. Ivanovic was playing well but Halep was getting that extra ball back every time. The world number three held on in a titanic five-deuce game at 3-2, saving two break points. Ivanovic didn’t go away though and held her next two service games to love and to 15 to force Halep to serve out the first set… Halep had a set point at *40-30 but errors into the net were her undoing.

The crucial game for Ivanovic came at 5-5; her first serve, which had been in full flow in the games before, suddenly became dormant. Ivanovic though managed to scrap her way through the game, saving two break points including the second with a wonderfully placed forehand down-the-line. Halep didn’t back off serving with scoreboard pressure, forcing the tiebreak which on reflection was just about right after a fascinating first 12 games. The first three points in the tiebreak went against the serve and the turning point was an extended rally where Ivanovic produced some remarkable retrieving on the defence. Halep played a sloppy tiebreak from then on…

Peak Ivanovic opened up the second set with a string of forehand winners and while she was broken straight back in the next game, Ivanovic looked to be the player in control and was winning the big points in the numerous dicey deuce games. Halep’s game began to break down from the end of that first set and she made some wild errors in the second set, particularly off the forehand side. Ivanovic’s level wasn’t as high in the second set but it didn’t need to be. More forehand errors followed and Ivanovic sealed the double break on a powerful return, before serving out the match to 30.

Halep’s decision to skip the nose surgery has been widely debated and after a performance like this, it isn’t a glowing example of smart decision making! It seemed to be an ideal time for her to take a break, particularly with other ailments. Her mental game has not looked secure in 2016 and it’s been an overall poor start to the year.

For Ivanovic, this was a really encouraging performance. She played extremely well to stay with Halep in that first set and claimed her reward when the Romanian player was unable to serve out the first set. It always amazes me that Ivanovic can get by with that ball toss but she does just fine, accepting that it’s never going to be perfect and adjusting without letting it control her mind and game. I’ve said it a lot these past few weeks but i’m impressed how Ivanovic has essentially turned around her season after such a miserable start.

Ivanovic plays Barbora Strycova in the quarter-finals; the Czech player came back from a set and a break down, winning 12 of the last 13 games to defeat Julia Goerges, 2-6 6-3 6-1. Goerges played so, SO well in the first round against Kuznetsova and for a set and a half, looked well on course to be backing it up and launch herself forward as a title contender. That’s until it all came crashing down. Ivanovic leads Strycova, 3-0 in their head-to-head and has yet to drop a set; in fact all six sets that Ivanovic has won have finished either 6-2 or 6-3. You just never know with Ivanovic and we’ve seen the letdown before but i’d give her the benefit of the doubt.

Photo in this post by Omar Boraby

14 thoughts on “WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships: Ana Ivanovic knocks out Simona Halep

  1. You never wrote a special article on halep winning but now she has lost u are specifically writing to show her lose. Why didn’t u write on muguruza’s and kvitovas losses??write them again specially mentioning them separately


    • But Halep hadn’t played this week, how I was supposed to write about her winning? It takes time to write posts, i’ve just written about Muguruza and Kvitova now…


    • Relax. There are many Ivanovic lovers here. James has to please some of his readers or followers, too (just kidding).

      Frankly speaking, everyone knows how to beat Halep now. If you observe her losses in her most recent matches were in the same patterns, you might know what I mean.


  2. The rainy condition and night session helped Ivanovic to win this match. She said her off season hard word had helped her performance in Dubai. Then, why did she flop in AO 2016?

    She was playing a sub-par Halep and lousy Gavrilova, therefore, she won.


    • I wouldn’t say Ivanovic flopped at the AO2016, the match against Keys was a tough one mentally. Sometimes it takes time for results on the court. And i’d give Halep more credit, she was playing well at the start of the match before her game broke down in the second set.


    • Well to give credits to her, she played really well. I don’t know (and I don’t care how you view it) but it seems to me you are very blinded by your bias against her. As for her AO 2016 results, maybe, just maybe, it’s really hard to focus when you are worried and think of somebody else during play.

      My rants were not just about her, but also about every other players who clearly deserves some respect by playing good tennis against other highly-rated opponents.

      I won’t call Halep sub-par or Gavrilova as lousy. Maybe Halep’s just struggling just like how Petkovic in 2015, Ivanovic in 2009 and 2010 (or until today), Mauresmo in 2007 until her retirement and the Williams sisters in 2006, especially Venus in recent years.


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