March 3rd, 2015
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Romania’s Simona Halep won it for the people. It was what she wanted. It was what the home fans wanted and it was what the new tournament on the WTA Tour needed.
Halep, the world number three, went out and claimed the title in the inaugural Bucharest Open on the weekend. It was a momentous win for her as she beat out Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the final, pushing on to deliver the goods after her fantastic semi final duel with fellow Romanian Monica Niculescu.
Halep was comfortable in the final against Vinci, a player who she had never beaten before, and proved once again her growing stature in the game. Italy’s Vinci carried an mightily impressive 9-1 record in WTA finals into the Bucharest climax, and despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first set, she couldn’t keep herself in the match. That was Halep’s eighth WTA title, her second of the year adding to her Doha title.
That has moved moved Halep up to number two on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, which is the season long race to make it to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in October. That is the season finale and only the top eight ranked players on the Race will grace the tournament with their presence. Points for the Road To Singapore are amassed for tournament performances over the course of the season and now Halep is within just 11 points of current leader Maria Sharapova. Halep is now running a 10/1 shot to win the final Major of the year, the US Open at Flushing Meadows later in the year.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic was the other winner on last week’s WTA as she mounted a successful title defence at Bad Gastein in Austria. Five years ago, ranked just inside the top 100 players in the world, Petkovic stunned everyone in winning the title at Bad Gastein, the first of her career. So in claiming her second Bad Gastein title, she earned her fourth career WTA title. There were some big battles along the way for Petkovic to retain her title, especially in the semi final where Petkovic was taken to three sets by Grace Min.
Both Petkovic and Halep take a break this week as the action swings over to Istanbul, Turkey and Bastad, Sweden. At the Collector Swedish Open there are no top twenty players in the world going off, leaving Alize Cornet as the outright favourite after second second Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova got dumped out on the first round against the rising star of the USA’s Grace Min. Losing Bucharest finalist Roberta Vinci will look for another successful week as she return straight back to action on the hard courts in Istanbul, where she is going as second seed to Caroline Wozniacki.