Halep and Mertens win through to Qatar final

Halep and Mertens win through to Qatar final

Mertens, who defeated fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals, has failed to win a set against Halep in her previous two meetings - both on clay a year ago.

World number three Halep grabbed an early break in the second set but Mertens responded immediately to get the match back on serve.

The world number 21 won 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, despite being outclassed in the first set, overcoming an eight-minute medical timeout for back pain in the second set, and losing 18 consecutive points at one stage in the match.

The third set Svitolina started with a series of three won games in a row.

In the other semi-final, Elise Mertens overpowered the 3rd seed Angelique Kerber 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in an hour and 46 minutes for her sixth and the biggest WTA final.

"I think it really helps when you play Fed Cup", added Mertens.

"I was really exhausted in the third set, I couldn't have the chance to win this match", said Halep, who won the Qatar title in 2014.

Mertens' triumph over the Romanian was her third win over a top 10 player in Doha. "This is one of the best that I've played, the second set was nearly flawless", Nishikori said.

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Everything looked done for the game, with an impressive Svitolina returning every ball that Halep threw to her. Over the course of the match, Halep played some quality tennis and for most of the time, she was the superior player.

"It means a lot to me to win here and the crowd were pretty awesome".

Elise kept her focus in the third set, serving well and scoring two breaks in games four and six, winning five games in a row and sealing the deal with a service victor at 5-1 for one of her career-best wins.

"I had some fantastic days of tennis last week and this week".

"I couldn't say I was really nervous", she added, "but I think my shots went long. I played a great tournament here in Doha this week as well", the 2017 French Open champion said. It was all or nothing for both the players.

The Romanian broke back but was soon struggling again and Mertens was crowned champion when her opponent drilled a double-handed backhand into the net.

The Belgian slumped to the court in disbelief before getting up to gaze at the clear Doha night sky.

She could rise as high number 16 in the next rankings because of her victory in Doha. It was Mertens' first win over Halep in three meetings.