DOHA, Qatar - She made major strides in the last seven months of the 2013 season and in Australia this year, but this might just be the biggest one - Simona Halep captured the biggest WTA title of her career on Sunday, beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets to win the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
The No.7-seeded Halep broke at love in the very first game of the match and never really looked back, eventually breaking serve four times - and holding all eight of her own service games - en route to a comprehensive 62 63 victory against the No.6-seeded Kerber. The match lasted just 66 minutes.
"I made too many easy mistakes at the beginning of the match, but Simona played very well - she played at a high level the whole week," Kerber said. "I was trying to play what I could today, I was giving everything I could, but she deserved to win the title. And I'm still happy about the week."
There was one thing Kerber was particularly happy about - her Shot Of The Day from Saturday.
"I really love this point, so I hope it will be the point of the year! Let's see," Kerber said.
Halep's win over Kerber was her third Top 10 win of the week, having also beaten Sara Errani and Agnieszka Radwanska the last two rounds, and it's the first time she has beaten three Top 10 players at the same tournament. She is also on a six-match winning streak against Top 10 players now.
But it wasn't all plain sailing for Halep this week - she almost lost to Kaia Kanepi first match.
"The first round was very difficult for me because I came from indoors at Fed Cup and it was pretty tough to adapt quickly - I had just one day to practice here," Halep said. "Kanepi had 5-3 in the third set against me and I called my coach on court, and I just told him, 'It's over, I lost the match.'
"But he said I can win that one. And I did. And then I got more confident with my serve. I started to believe I had a chance at this tournament. I was fighting for every point and found my game again."
Also, she comes away with the seventh and biggest WTA title of her career - among her first six WTA titles were two at the Premier level, but neither of those tournaments offered more than an $800,000 total prize purse - the Qatar Total Open in Doha offered a whopping $2,440,070 total prize purse.
There's more - Halep will now rise from No.10 to No.9 on the rankings, one step closer to becoming the highest-ranked Romanian in WTA history - she's currently third on the list behind Irina Spirlea (who made it as high as No.7 in the world) and Virginia Ruzici (who went as high as No.8 in the world).
"I feel very, very good now. I'm very happy I could win this tournament. It's amazing for me, because when I came here I didn't think I could reach the final, or win even. So it's amazing. It's the biggest tournament I've won. It's incredible here in Doha. The trophy presentation was very nice too.
"It's just incredible here."