Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

Halep Downs Stephens to Join Muguruza in Cincinnati Final

Simona Halep plays a shot during her victory over Anastasija Sevastova in Ohio on Thursday Simona Halep plays a shot during her victory over Anastasija Sevastova in Ohio on Thursday
Spencer Simpson | 22 August, 2017, 00:52

Simona Halep cruised past wildcard Sloane Stephens to set up a Western and Southern Open final against Garbine Muguruza and close on the world No.1 spot on Sunday (AEST).

Halep battled to a lengthy deuce facing a 3-0 deficit in the second set, but Muguruza won before steamrolling her way to the title. She is 8-2 on hard courts this summer and is contesting her first non-Slam final since winning the 2015 China Open.

Dimitrov maintained the pattern of straight-sets dominance with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Nick Kyrgios.

Pliskova, who holds the world No. 1 ranking and won this event previous year, was the favorite because she held a 6-1 head-to-head record against the Spanish player coming into Saturday's encounter.

"I played so bad today and Garbine played so well", Halep said on court at the end.

"I want to apologies [sic] to the fans for the last match, I'm really disappointed but it is made by me so I take it BUT congrats to Garbine for the great tennis".

"To be No. 1 after all the things I've been going through the last couple years is something unbelievable", Nadal said.

Sixth-ranked Spaniard Muguruza reached her first U.S. event final by trouncing Czech top-ranked defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2, flipping the script in a rematch of their 2016 Cincinnati semi-final. Settling quickly into the match, her groundstrokes were dominant, not giving Pliskova a foothold in the first set.

"I was very precise with my shots, " Muguruza said.

"I feel pretty good", Pliskova said. "Everything went my way".

Kyrgios had the first chance of the match when a pair of Dimitrov double-faults gifted the Australian a break point in the fifth game, but the Bulgarian survived when Kyrgios erred with a forehand.

Muguruza promptly went up a break as Pliskova slogged through unforced errors.

"You never knew who was going to win until the last point", said Muguruza.

She endured a two-hour, 45-minute three-set win over Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova on Friday that followed a two-hour, 18-minute win over American Madison Keys on Thursday. "I have played it quite a few times and always thought this can be maybe one of the first ones, and it is the first one", Dimitrov said. Muguruza knocked off the defending champion, Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 6-2, in the semifinals. Muguruza broke her again to open the second set and faced only two break points during the entire match. The Romanian has reached at least the quarterfinals of her last 11 tournaments. The 20-year-old has spent the year since Rio de Janeiro taking a break from the sport and says she is in no hurry to make any sort of concrete decision.

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