Mertens stuns Halep for Qatar title

Mertens stuns Halep for Qatar title

Belgium's Elise Mertens poses with the Qatar Open trophy after beating Simona Halep in the final on Saturday. REUTERS

Belgium's Elise Mertens claimed the biggest win of her career on Saturday, surprisingly coming from a set down to beat world number three Simona Halep and clinch the Qatar Open.

The World No 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.

"It's a big moment for me, getting that victory," said a jubilant Mertens, 23, afterwards.

Her win, in a little over two hours, was her third victory over a top ten player in Doha this week, and her second over a Grand Slam champion.

Halep is the reigning French Open champion and Angelique Kerber, who she beat in the semifinals, holds the Wimbledon title.

Qatar is the fifth title of Mertens' career but notably her first at a Premier-level event. She said it outshone her achievement in getting to the Australian Open semifinals in 2018.

Mertens started nervously, lost her opening service game, and the first set in just 32 minutes.

At 2-0 down in the second, it looked like it was going to turn into a routine victory for Halep.

Mertens broke back, then called for medical attention and was the stronger player for the remainder of the game.

Schnur sparkles

Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur punched his ticket to the ATP New York Open final by outlasting US journeyman Sam Querrey 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 6-3 on Saturday.

Schnur, a 23-year-old from Montreal ranked 154th in the world, defeated 10-time ATP title-winner Querrey in one hour and 54 minutes in the semifinals.

He will try to complete a fairy-tale championship against American Reilly Opelka, who outgunned top seed John Isner in three sets 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (16/14), 7-6 (7/4) in the other semifinal.

The all-American showdown set a Tour record for the most combined aces in a three-set match with 81. The previous record was 71 set by Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison earlier this year in Brisbane.

Wawrinka in final

Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka reached his first final on Saturday since his comeback a year ago from left knee surgeries.

The unseeded Wawrinka beat top-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the ABN AMRO World Tournament semifinals in Rotterdam. Wawrinka will face Gael Monfils for the title.

The final is Wawrinka's first since the 2017 French Open, where he last met Monfils in the fourth round.

Monfils ousted the other remaining seed, No 5 Daniil Medvedev, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, a week after the Russian beat Monfils in the Sofia semifinals en route to that title.

Wawrinka didn't serve as well as Nishikori but outplayed Nishikori from the baseline. And his returns never let the Japanese feel comfortable even after winning the second set. The Swiss broke Nishikori decisively at 5-4 in the third set.

Wawrinka will be going for his 17th career title and second in Rotterdam, after winning in 2015.