Top seed Simona Halep fought past red hot Elena Rybakina to claim the 20th career title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The Romanian 2015 Dubai champion came back from a set down and 3-1 down in the third set to win the unpredictable final in a third-set tiebreak 3-6 6-3 7-6(5). She has now drawn level with Victoria Azarenka in sixth place on the list of active title winners (behind Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova).
After a first-round bye, Halep’s road to the title included a thrilling win over Ons Jabeur in the second round, seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals, qualifier Jennifer Brady in the semis and finally Elena Rybakina, who has reached the final of four of her five tournaments this year.
Twelve months ago, Rybakina was ranked barely inside the Top 200, while now she’s projected to rise from current career-high of No.19 to No.17 when the new rankings are released on Monday. Halep has been ranked inside the Top 10 for 317 consecutive weeks, the 10th longest streak in WTA history, and will remain No.2.