DUBAI, UAE - Simona Halep’s campaign for a second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title came to an end at the hands of an inspired Belinda Bencic, and in spite of the quarterfinal defeat, the Romanian takes plenty of confidence from a triumphant Fed Cup weekend and runner-up finish at the Qatar Total Open.
“I take only positive things,” she said in her post-match press conference “I had great matches. My level is good. Physically, also I'm good, but day by day I had to play, so it's not easy.”
The 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat to Bencic was Halep’s ninth match in 13 days, a compacted schedule that contributed to some physical issues the former No.1 felt on court Thursday night.
“I was tired. After the second set, I felt like I'm getting cramps a little bit. It's normal. I was sweating a lot.
“I couldn't serve that well because of my Achilles. I felt it in last match a little bit. The left leg, a little bit of cramping. But there are no excuses, just the fact that I'm tired.”
Halep last played Bencic back in 2015, when the Swiss youngster won the Rogers Cup in Toronto with a slew of impressive wins over former World No.1s Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, and then No.1 Serena Williams before outlasting the future Roland Garros champion in the final.
“She's aggressive. She's hitting the balls really hard no matter where she hits. This makes you to feel the pressure.
"I think she serves well. I think she's a complete player and she can play good tennis.”
Though she felt the match slipping away in the final set, Halep has showed her resolve to keep fighting from even the most insurmountable deficits, and was proud of how she forced the former World No.7 to win the match.
“The body felt that it's tired. Even if I was not giving up, I felt like I don't have enough to win. but I played till the end.
“I tried just to stay there no matter the result.”
Halep will be No.2 in the WTA rankings if Petra Kvitova doesn't win the title in Dubai and will have more chances to narrow the gap between her and World No.1 Naomi Osaka in the upcoming Sunshine Swing, where the Romanian won the BNP Paribas Open in 2015.
“It's second month of the year, so it's okay,” she noted in Doha. “It's good, to be No. 2 in the world, it's not bad. I'm enjoying the moment. I'm going to dream for the No.1.”