WTA Cincinnati: Simona Halep races into final

It took world number two Simona Halep less than an hour to book her place in the Western and Southern Open final, crushing American Sloane Stephens with the loss of only three games

WTA Cincinnati: Simona Halep races into final
Simona Halep celebrates during her semifinal win. Photo: Noel Alberto
Simona Halep
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Sloane Stephens

World number two Simona Halep made quick work of American Sloane Stephens in the semifinals of the Western and Southern Open on Saturday, sending the American packing 6-2, 6-1 in just 55 minutes. Halep, who can become number one in the world with a win on Sunday, was unstoppable from start to finish, refusing to miss as she dominated the rallies on her way to a big win.

Halep starts quickly

It did not take long for Halep to seize control of the match. Showing no ill effects from her battle Johanna Konta the night before, Halep took everything Stephens could throw at her and sent it right back, bringing up a pair of break points in the third game of the match. Struggling to keep up with her opponent’s consistency, Stephens sent a forehand wide to surrender the early break.

Sloane Stephens looks on in frustration during her semifinal loss. Photo: Noel Alberto
Sloane Stephens looks on in frustration during her semifinal loss. Photo: Noel Alberto

The Romanian, who can become the number one player in the world if she wins the title this week, did not slow down after securing the break, racing ahead 0-40 in her next return game. Stephens would save the first break point with a big serve, but Halep would step up and rip a forehand winner to secure a double break. She would consolidate, winning her fifth game in a row for a 4-1 lead. While Stephens stopped the run with a hold in the next game, she could do nothing to keep Halep from taking the set, as the Romanian held the following game to wrap up the opening set in just under half an hour.

Romanian train keeps rolling

The second set was nearly a mirror image of the first. After the pair exchanged holds to start, Halep struck quickly and never looked back. It also seemed as though Stephens, who was contesting her second semifinal in as many weeks after being out nearly a year, was running out of gas as she double-faulted to give Halep double break point in the third game. Though the American would save both, she fell behind 40-AD and a barrage from Halep induced an error to claim the opening break.

Halep powers through a backhand during the semifinal in Cincinnati. Photo: Noel Alberto
Halep powers through a backhand during the semifinal in Cincinnati. Photo: Noel Alberto

Just like the opening set, the Romanian build off of the break, adding a second in her very next return game. She consolidated with a love hold, her fifth game in a row as she once again took a 5-1 lead. Unlike the first set, Stephens could not stop the bleeding. Her play was getting sloppier and sloppier while Halep only appeared to be growing in stature. The Romanian took a 0-40 lead in the seventh game and Stephens would drive one final ball long to put Halep in Sunday’s final.

By the numbers

Halep was the queen of the second serve points in this match, only losing one of her own while winning ten of twelve on Stephens’ serve. She won 66 percent of her own first serve points, while winning 58 percent of Stephens’ total service points. The Romanian held nine break points in the match, converting five of them, while never facing a break point.

Halep will take on Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the final. With a win, Halep would become the world number one.