Simona Halep suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Elise Mertens in the final of the WTA Qatar Open after she looked like she was running away with the final at one stage.
Mertens won the biggest title of her career despite being a first set down and a break down in the second set, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the title-decider at Doha on Saturday.
The two players started off on a poor note on their own serve, losing the service twice over the first six games. However, Halep broke that parity by running away with 18 successive points over a period of five games to come back from that score to not just win the first but also take an early lead in the second.
The Romanian took a 2-0 lead in the second set with an early break of serve and the title looked well within her grasp thanks to her domination. However, Mertens broke back immediately and then held serve to level the score in the second set.
Mertens got her chance to come back into the encounter even more with a second break of serve in the ninth game of the set and then served out to level the match.
In the final set, the titanic battle continued with Mertens taking a 2-0 lead only for Halep to get it back to 2-2. However, the unseeded Belgian reeled off four of the next five games to clinch the win in the final and the title to bag her biggest prize on the WTA circuit.
This completed a brilliant week for Mertens, who had earlier defeated the defending Wimbledon champion, Angelique Kerber to make it to the final. Mertens, who was expected to play Karolina Pliskova in her second round match before her opponent withdrew from the match, then sent Kiki Bertens packing in the quarter-final.
Halep will now participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships starting next week.