Simona Halep remains at No. 2 in the latest WTA rankings after winning her first title of the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Halep captured her second Dubai crown after overcoming the rising Elena Rybakina in a thrilling showdown, coming back from a set down to emerge triumphant in a deciding set tiebreak, 3-6 6-3 7-6(5).
The Romanian also clawed her way back from a 3-1 deficit in the deciding set to secure the 20th WTA title of her career and her first since Wimbledon last year.
“It feels great that I could win it,” Halep said, during her post-match press conference. “Actually, it was amazing. [Rybakina] fought till the end. She didn’t give up any balls. It was really tough mentally. The pressure was very high. But I want it badly, so that’s why I fought till the end.”
“It’s very special to be in 2020, 20th anniversary of this tournament, 20th title,” she added. “It’s pretty special. I just want to enjoy it. It’s very, very beautiful.”
Halep’s remarkable consistency was recognised earlier this week, with the two-time major champion starting her 318th consecutive week inside the top 10 – the tenth-longest streak in WTA history.
With 20 career titles to her name, Halep has drawn level with Victoria Azarenka in sixth spot on the list of active title winners.
Halep stays at No. 2 in the latest WTA rankings courtesy of her Dubai victory, moving 876 points ahead of No. 3 Karolina Pliskova – but she still trails No. 1 Ashleigh Barty by over 2,000 points.
“I’ve done a lot of results, many results these six, seven years,” said Halep. “I’m staying here in the top 5, top 10, which is not easy. I’m proud of my job. Also this tournament gives me confidence that I’m still there.”
Meanwhile, despite the disappointment of falling agonisingly short of the biggest title of her career, it was another incredible week for 20-year-old Rybakina.
The Russian has now sensationally made the final in four of her five events this season and continues to climb in the WTA rankings, moving up to a career-high No. 17. Rybakina is the second youngest player inside the top 20 behind 19-year-old US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
In other ranking movements, Belinda Bencic – who was defending the Dubai title but lost in the opening round – drops five spots to No. 9, while the in-form Jennifer Brady, who made the semi-finals, cracks the top 50, climbing seven places to No. 45.
The tour moves on to the Qatar Open in Doha this week, with six top 10 players – including returning No. 1 Barty – headlining the draw.
Latest WTA Rankings, Monday February 24
1. ?? Ashleigh Barty
2. ?? Simona Halep
3. ?? Karolina Pliskova
4. ?? Bianca Andreescu (+1)
5. ?? Sofia Kenin (+2)
6. ?? Kiki Bertens (+2)
7. ?? Elina Svitolina (-2)
8. ?? Serena Williams (+1)
9. ?? Belinda Bencic (-5)
10. ?? Naomi Osaka
11. ?? Petra Kvitova
12. ?? Madison Keys
13. ?? Aryna Sabalenka
14. ?? Petra Martic (+1)
15. ?? Johanna Konta (-1)
16. ?? Garbine Muguruza
17. ?? Elena Rybakina (+2)
18. ?? Marketa Vondrousova (-1)
19. ?? Alison Riske (-1)
20. ?? Maria Sakkari (+1)
Notable Top 100 Ranking Movements This Week
?? Jennifer Brady (+7 to No. 45)
?? Su-Wei Hsieh (-13 to No. 53)
?? Alison Van Uytvanck (-14 to No. 62)
?? Carla Suarez Navarro (-11 to No. 70)
?? Viktoria Kuzmova (-20 to No. 85)
?? Anastasia Potapova (-16 to No. 97)
?? Kateryna Kozlova (-10 to No. 99)