She felt a little bit sick before the match, but Simona Halep gave herself the best kind of pre-match pep talk and ended up cruising to the title at the Shenzhen Open.
WTA Staff

SHENZHEN, China - The week didn't start out so smoothly, but by the end it was plain sailing - Simona Halep ended the Cinderella run of Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets on Saturday afternoon to win her ninth WTA title and put herself among the favorites for the upcoming Australian Open.

Halep almost didn't make it out of her first match in Shenzhen - WTA Rising Star Annika Beck had her on the ropes, winning the first set, twice going up a break in the second set and, after letting that second set slip, even going up a break in the third. Halep survived, however, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

And she only gathered steam from there. The No.1-seeded Halep never dropped another set, including in Saturday's final, where she held all eight of her service games - never facing a break point - and getting four breaks of her own to beat the No.8-seeded Bacsinszky in 62 minutes, 6-2, 6-2.

"I wasn't feeling very well before the match - I was a little bit sick - so I told myself I have nothing to lose, just go on court, be relaxed, stay focused and fight for every point," Halep explained.

"It worked, and I felt really relaxed today. I'm happy I could play better day by day and match by match here. I'm looking forward to playing like today in the next tournament, maybe even better."

Li Na, who won the first two Shenzhen Opens in 2013 and 2014, made the Australian Open final both years - finishing runner-up to Victoria Azarenka the first year then winning the title last year.

Halep was asked in her post-match press conference if she feels she can keep the pattern going.

"It's tough to answer that question. You never know what will happen day by day," Halep said.

"But I don't want to put any pressure on myself for the Australian Open. I have to be focused there, and I hope to win many matches there, but it'll be tough. I'll just try to do everything I did here."

Halep now has nine WTA titles to her name, winning six in 2013 (Nürnberg, 's-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia), two in 2014 (Doha and Bucharest) and now one in 2015.

Despite coming up one win short on Saturday, it was still a dream week for Bacsinszky. Not only did she reach her first WTA final since 2010, but in the semifinals she beat No.4-ranked Petra Kvitova, the equal-biggest win of her career (she beat a No.4-ranked Maria Sharapova in Wuhan last fall).

Some history was made in the doubles final, as the Kichenok twins - Lyudmyla and Nadiia - became just the second set of twins to win a WTA doubles title together by beating Chinese duo Liang Chen and Wang Yafan, 6-4, 7-6(6). The Pliskova twins have won three WTA doubles titles together.