Simona Halep will meet one of the hottest new faces of 2020, Elena Rybakina, for the Dubai title.
Halep, the 2015 tournament champion, tore through qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-0 in just 62 minutes to return to the finals.
“It felt much better than previous matches,” said Halep who had gone three sets in her last two matches and saved match points in the second round. “I played really well. Everything went in my side. I felt the ball great. I feel like I played the best match since I came here.
“It’s always a nice opportunity and privilege to play the last match of the tournament,” said Halep. “I play for another trophy, so I’m relaxed. I’m focused. I really want it.”
Halep struggled to beat Brady in Melbourne, but today rolled.
“It’s fun when you feel the ball and when you can do anything you want,” said Halep. “Today it was one of those days, I could open the court easy. I felt like every time I hit the ball, I feel it.”
In the final it will be Rybakina who edged Petra Martic in two breakers 7-6(5), 7-6(2).
“So tired, but happy!” smiled Rybakina. “First set it was not easy because she plays really good. She has really good slices. Her serve, it’s not flat like I played with Pliskova for example. It’s completely different style of game. It was not easy to start against her. But I tried to work every point. Second set, I was 3-0 down, but I knew it’s going to be easier to win this set than play a third one. I wanted to win second so much.”
In their only meeting last year in Wuhan, Halep retired to Rybakina down 5-4 in the first set due to a back injury.
“It’s amazing what [Rybakina’s] done already this year,” Halep stated. “I saw her a little bit during some matches.”
“She has a big serve,” Halep continued, looking forward to the final. “I have to pay attention on my return and to be like today: confident, aggressive if there is a chance, just fighting. It’s the best thing to do now.”
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