Romania’s Simona Halep won the year-end WTA Tournament on Champions in Sofia on November 3, her sixth title in 2013 that pushed her to the brink of the top 10 in the WTA rankings.
Halep, who was 0-for-3 in finals played before this year, made it 6-for-6 in 2013, winning in the final against Australia’s Samantha Stosur 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Only world number one Serena Williams has won more titles this season.
In front of about 7000 people at the Arena Armeec, which included a large number of Romanian fans and Romania’s former men’s world number one and winner of two Grand Slam titles Ilie Nastase, Halep started poorly, clearly bothered by a hip injury.
But in the second set, she recaptured some of the form that saw her storm through the round-robin matches without dropping a set (she did drop one to Serbia’s former world number one and two-time tournament champion Ana Ivanovic in the semi-final a day earlier).
In the end, Halep’s edge in controlling the court with long rallies proved too much for Stosur. “She’s a very good player – she got me a couple weeks ago in Moscow, and again it was very hard today – but I’m happy with the week I had,” Stosur said after the match.
Halep is poised to become only the third Romanian female tennis player to break into the WTA top 10, following in the footsteps of her manager Virginia Ruzici (a winner at Roland Garros in 1978) and Irina Spirlea (who reached number seven in the rankings in 1997, the highest ever for a Romanian, after a season that saw her progress to at least the fourth round in every Grand Slam, including the semi-finals of the US Open that year.)
Halep’s success this year brought the spotlight back to Romanian tennis and she was now a player that even the top five took seriously, Ruzici said, as quoted by Romanian sports daily Gazeta Sporturilor.
Nastase, meanwhile, said that yet another title should give Halep more confidence for next season and said that he expected her to challenge for Grand Slam titles in the future – in 14 appearances so far, Halep’s best result has been a fourth-round exit at the last US Open.
(Simona Halep with the WTA Tournament of Champions trophy. Photo: sofia-tennis.bg)