As an opening act for her 2018 season, world No. 1 Simona Halep couldn’t have asked for better.
The 26-year-old Romanian not only won the singles title at the Shenzhen Open, she also added her first career WTA Tour doubles title.
Halep defeated No. 6 seed Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 to take the singles title.
And then she returned to court with doubles partner Irina-Camelia Begu to take a second title on the day in a 1-6, 6-1, [10-8] comeback effort against the No. 1 seeds, Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova.
(The matches had to be played indoors, with the fans getting a refund, because of inclement weather. The alternative would have been to postpone to Sunday, when the forecast wasn’t that much better, and greatly compromise the ability of some of the participants to get to their event this week).
“After the first set I was not cool at all. I just wanted to win the match and I did everything I could. I want to thank Begu for inviting me to play doubles. It was a pleasure and a great week. It’s the first time in my life that I have won both titles. It’s a great feeling,” Halep said.
Halep’s only other doubles final came at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2016. There, she won the singles title, defeating Angelique Kerber in the final. But she and fellow Romanian Monica Niculescu fell to Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the doubles final.
The rare double, and still No. 1
It was the first time since the Bogota tournament in Feb. 2009 that the two singles finalists also found themselves pitted against each other in the doubles final.
With the singles victory, Halep also retains the No. 1 singles ranking. That also means she will be the No. 1 seed at the Australian Open.
At the beginning of the week, both Garbiñe Muguruza (who was just 40 points behind to start the week) and Caroline Wozniacki both had a shot at taking the top spot away from her.
As it happened, the three all were playing different tournaments.
Muguruza fell in her first match in Brisbane, victim of full body cramp.
Wozniacki had to win both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches at Auckland on Saturday because of the inclement weather. She will play the final a day later than scheduled, on Sunday.
She would have had to win the title, and have Halep go no further than the Shenzhen quarterfinals, to become No. 1.
Still, Wozniacki will move up to No. 2 regardless of Sunday’s result.
The last time the Dane was No. 2 was in October, 2010. After that, she went on a run at No. 1 through the 2012 Australian Open.
(Photos courtesy of the Shenzhen Open)