SHENZHEN, China - World No.1 Simona Halep won her first title of 2018 on Saturday, coming through a delayed three-set final against Katerina Siniakova to win the Shenzhen Open 6-1, 2-6, 6-0.
The final was moved indoors after repeated rain delays and began six hours after its scheduled start time, but Halep rose to the occasion in the difficult conditions to secure her first title as the World No.1.
The two players were squaring off to see who would join Li Na as the lone two-time champions at the event, with Halep having won her first title in 2015 and Siniakova winning her title a year ago.
“It’s been a great week for me as I’ve been playing very well," Halep said. "It was a difficult match and she played very well. I think we had a great match today. I tried everything to win."
"I was a little bit less nervous and just tried to enjoy the moment even if we are playing indoors. It’s not easy but we did our job and I’m happy that I could win the first title of the year."
Halep stormed to the first set in under half an hour, breaking Siniakova twice in a dominant start in which she lost just seven points on serve overall.
Having defeated Halep in three sets in the second round on her way to the title a year ago, Siniakova would not go quietly in her title defense. The No.6 seed finally found her feet in the second set, breaking in the fourth game to move 3-1 ahead.
Despite being broken back in the very next game, the Czech maintained her focus to take Halep's serve twice more and level the match at a set apiece.
The deciding set began with another break, with Siniakova losing serve, and she was again broken to love in the third game of the set, double faulting to allow Halep to move 3-0 ahead.
The Romanian did not look back from there, breaking once again to ease to the title and further confirm her place as top seed for the Australian Open, which starts in a week's time.
"I didn’t play as well as I did last year in the final but Simona really played well today. It’s a good start to the season for me, but of course, a better start for Simona," Siniakova said in defeat.
"Last season, I won two titles after making the final here so hopefully I can get more titles again this year."
Following the singles final, Halep made it a perfect afternoon against Siniakova as she and Irina-Camelia Begu defeated the Czech duo of Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova, 1-6, 6-1, 10-8 in 65 minutes.
"After the first set I was not cool at all. I just wanted to win the match and I did everything I could," Halep said. "I want to thank Begu for inviting me to play doubles. It was a pleasure and a great week. It’s the first time in my life that I have won both titles. It’s a great feeling."
Added Begu: “It’s a pleasure playing with Simona. We are good friends and she is, of course, the singles No.1 in the world. I want to thank Simona for playing with me and I also want to thank our team for their strong support."
Saturday's matches marked the first time since 2009 where two players contested the singles and doubles finals against each other at the same event. That year in Bogota, María José Martínez Sánchez defeated Gisela Dulko in singles, before teaming with Nuria Llagostera Vives to beat Dulko and Flavia Pennetta in doubles.
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.