The Romanian, who began 2018 at No1 but conceded the top spot to Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the Australian Open, was voted the WTA Player of the Month for January.
After injuring her ankle in the first round in Melbourne, she continued to keep her fans on the edges of their seats, not least in fighting off three match points against Lauren Davis in a dramatic third-round struggle which lasted three hours, 45 minutes. She went on to win 15-13 in the third set.
More thrills followed as she saved two match points against Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals, winning that match 9-7 in the third.
Her efforts carried her to another remarkable match in the final, where she fought Wozniacki for almost three hours before losing, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4.
Halep’s run in Melbourne followed victory in Shenzhen, where she lifted both her 16th singles title and her first doubles crown. And that followed a fine end to the 2017 season during which she beat Maria Sharapova and reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to reach the final in Beijing, claiming the No1 ranking for the first time in the process.
The popular Romanian faces tough competition in Dubai, however, in a field that includes Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time Wimbledon champion and 2018 St Petersburg winner Petra Kvitova, defending Dubai champion and the winner in Brisbane last month, Elina Svitolina, the Sydney champion and Australian Open semi-finalist, Kerber, the 2017 US Open runner-up, Madison Keys, and the woman who pipped Halep to the No1 ranking last July, Karolina Pliskova.
Also taking a wild card into the tournament is five-time Major winner, Maria Sharapova.
The women’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begin on 19 February, and continue with the men’s event between 26 February and 3 March, in a draw headed by World Tour Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov.
Tickets are on sale at: http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly