sports gazette

WTA Premier 5 Doha: Live As It Happens

© JJ#48 and Gaspace: Halep and Kerber for the first premier 5 of the season
Published: 16 Feb 2014

In the final of the first Premier 5 of the women's season German Angelique Kerber faces Romanian Simona Halep, both for their first title of this tier.
Here is Giulio Gasparin to accompany you through this final: to check the updates refresh the page.

16:36 Fireworks shine like Halep did

A lovely firework display ends this year's edition of the Qatar Total Open and my time with you. I hope you enjoyed this live reporting from the final.

That's all for this afternoon, but stay tuned, the Sports Gazette team has a lot more to come in the next days.

16:33 Halep lifts the biggest trophy of her career

Rising the golden hawk she thanks the crowd, opponent and sponsor, she was simply the much better player on court and she can now go to Dubai, where she will play next week's Premier.

16:30  Trophy on their way

Kerber gives her runner-up speech, her voice is broken, but she acknowledges the great play of her opponent and thanks her team and fans for the support.

16:27 Halep is now considerably richer

And I am not talking about the  $441.000-worth cheque she has just received, nor the big trophy to add to her collection. Halep leaves Doha stronger of two more top 10 wins, greater security in herself, a new career highest at world number nine and a third place in the race to the Masters of Singapore.

16:24 Consistency is the key

23 winners and 9 Unforced Errors for Halep in this final, how do you beat someone playing like this? Kerber tried hard and yet she won no more than 5 games. The Romanian takes the ball early, chases a lot of balls and yet can attack whenever she has a chance, she has won tournaments on every surface in just one year time, as she said:

"I did not even think of being able to win this final, I was playing indoor for Fed Cup just last weekend"

16:22 What an outstanding Halep

Breaking through is never easy, but confirming yourself can be even harder. Not for Simona Halep, she finished her 2013 as most improved player of the year and now she will be world number 9 starting from tomorrow.

16:16 6-2 6-3 Halep wins 7th title of her career

No-one would like to win a match on a doublefault, but she has been cruising through this match.

16:18 5-3* 40-30* Match Point Halep!

After a wild backhand from the German.

16:16 5-3* 15-15 Kerber saves to stay in the match

And after an amazing point by Halep she finds a magic point: great defence from Halep who seems to get to every ball, but a fantastic dropshot-lob combination gives the point to the German.

16:16 5-3* Halep

Only winners in this game. A terrific forehand down the line opens the game for the Romanian, but Kerber immediately replies with one herself. Kerber tries to mix things up charging the net after a slice backhand down the line, but two more winners from Halep seal the game.

16:11 *4-3 Halep

Positive ball striking for Kerber, who needed this hold to keep in touch. Halep reads the serve well twice and finds two winners from the return of serve, but Kerber still manages to hold.

16:09 4-2* Halep

Halep starts the game with two outstanding points, but then Kerber fights her way back to deuce. The Romanian then finds great variety and an ace to close the game.

16:03 *3-2 Halep

Kerber finds herself on troubles behind her serve again, Halep is suffering no longer from the accelerations of the German. Kerber saves to break points with powerful strokes, but on the third a very foolish attempt to a dropshot with the court wide opens gives the chance to Halep who takes it and breaks.

15:58 2-2* Kerber

Halep is not letting the comeback of her opponent bother her as she serves with calm and authority to hold easily to 15.

15:55 *1-2 Kerber

Great to see confidence finally flowing in Kerber’s veins. She holds with easy after taking a few more risks and bringing on some nice variety. Hold to 15.

15:52 1-1* Kerber

Better depth, higher pace and a bit of luck (involuntary dropshot return winner) help Kerber in her fight back, but Halep seems still in control as she saves a breakpoint with down-the-line winner and holds with authority.

15:49 *0-1 Kerber

Much better for Kerber, her body language and stronger grunts tells it all: she is ready for the fight. She is a great fighter and will not easily give up.
Finally finds herself on the lead by holding to 15.

15:46 Kerber in tears

Kerber asks for coaching but first thing she does is hiding her face in the towel to dry tears.

Will she be able to turn this match around? She looked better in the past few games and needs this level if she wants to challenge Halep, who has been showed no signs of nerves or whatsoever in her biggest final of her career so far.

15:44 6-2 Outstanding Halep takes the first set

So much better for Kerber who has another chance to break, but Halep raises the level, saves it and goes on to hold for the first set.

15:43 *5-2 40-40 Halep serving for the set

New balls for Halep as she serves for the first set.
For the first time she finds herself trailing on her serve after two unforced errors, but calm she saves the first break point and then reaches the first set point after a wild error from the German.
Kerber is not discouraged and with two massive backhand saves the first and then gets her second chance to break.
She enters with power on the return, but her net rush ends with a fault as she touches the net with her right foot.

15:36 *5-2 Halep

Kerber is called to serve to stay in the first set after just 20 minutes. It has been tough and needed two advantages but with a good stop volley she managed to hold without facing any set point.

15:32 5-1* Halep

Halep is like a train on a run, she is cruising past this first set with comfortable control. Kerber is completely out of the contest so far, she looks like another player from yesterday, the pressure seems to be catching on her.

15:28 *4-1 Halep

The German’s down the line shot gave her the win yesterday and are the only way to break Halep’s rhythm, however she needs accuracy because Halep can take advantage of the open court if she is not effective enough.
That is the key so far, the Romanian breaks once again.

15:22 3-1* Halep

Kerber trying to be more aggressive on the return but too many errors are leaking. With a difficult drive volley Halep holds to love.

15:20 *2-1

Kerber appears on the scoreboard. Finally more aggressive she finds and important and easy hold.

15:16 2-0* Halep

Shaky start from the German, her ball travels too slow and too short to bother Halep who steps inside the court whenever she has a chance. Easy hold for her.

15:14 *1-0 Halep

Kerber first to serve. The German can hit aces, but her second serve is often attackable, especially against great returners like Halep.
A bad double fault gives the break to love to the Romanian. Kerber has started too nervous.


Halep has reached the final by defeating world number four Agnieska Radwanska in straight sets after recovering from 5-2 down in the first set 7-5 6-2.
Kerber has defeated former world number one Jelena Jankovic 6-1 7-6 saving a set point in the second set in the 12th game. One minute to the first point.


Angelique Kerber is blue a deep blue dress from Adidas at the moment covered by a jumper. Halep with a jumper too over her white Lacoste dress. Three minutes to the first point.

15:05 - Warm up begins

The band has just left the court and Eva Asderaki from Greece has taken her seat on the umpire’s chair. Players are ready to start the warm up in this slightly windy evening.

15:00 - Ready to go

It is time for some great tennis in Doha! Temperature is of 20°C and the floodlights shine on the hard courts of this final. Everything is ready for the two players to give their best for the biggest title of their careers.

14:50 - Good Afternoon!

Here is Giulio Gasparin, from the Sports Gazette team and I will accompany you through this afternoon's final of the first Premier 5 WTA of the season. The absence of last year's finalists Azarenka and Williams, together with the early loss of Australian Open finalist Li Na left the draw open for deep runs of outsiders and here we are waiting for Kerber and Halep to step on court.

Who will win? Who do you support? Interact with us via twitter @SportsGazette

Preview in numbers:

9-10 The ranking of the two opponents, with the German just ahead of her opponent.

6 The number of titles conquered by Halep in the last season (and in her career up to now).

3 The titles of Kerber, out of 9 finals, the last one lost to Pironkova in Sydney earlier this year.

1-0 The head to head for the Romanian, but that match was back in 2009 when both players were far different from today.

0 The sets lost from Kerber in her last six matches (including two wins in Fed Cup against Slovakia)

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