Simona Halep held the edge in her match to get through to the Rogers Cup final Saturday afternoon. With her strong game play and a large contingency of Romanians cheering her on, it did the trick to defeat Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 at the Aviva Tennis Centre on the campus of York University.
This is just the fourth time both players had met up and for two of the biggest names to cone out of Europe, the short rivalry is phenomenal. Halep has Errani beaten two of the last three times with her most recent victory at the Porsche Grand Prix back in April. Since then, their paths have been on different sides of the ball with the Romanian still showing her competitiveness while Errani tried to find her way back into top shape.
The Italian had tough games throughout her run in Toronto but none came close to Halep’s fight on court in the last two matches. She successfully turned out a horrid start in the first set against Agnieszka Radwanska to come back and two the next two with sheer adversity. In what could be another one of those moments, the two titans of their sport would duke it out to make their way to Sunday’s final.
Errani gave Halep some leverage in the first game but her unforced errors caused her to lose out on the opening lead. The Romanian tallied her eighth unforced error in the second game inevitably giving Errani the break point. Halep made a change early winning the next nine of 11 points while on serve putting her right back into the set. After regaining the lead, Halep opened the gap taking a 4-2 lead after six. The unforced errors gave way to winners recording 14 while the Italian had just one.
She got it together in Game Seven adding more winners for points that moved her within a game of Halep for the break. Halep made her pay for the response taking a victory that put her within a game of the set. Errani made one more offensive run at the Romanian before the door was shut on her. Halep return to serve to finish off the set with a love service to win 6-4.
Aside from the two game margin separating the two, the fight was still very close as both players had high percentages on their first serve with Errani leading the way at 76 percent. Both had numerous unforced errors but the key for Halep’s victory was the 20 winners she was able to serve up.
Errani opened the serve for the second set showing that she had potential of giving Halep a run for her money. That soon changed as the Romanian tied at one all before taking control of the set to notch out another pair on the Italian. Leading 3-1, Errani made another good service run in Game Five to stay close on the scoreboard.
Thinking that her serve would stay strong against Halep was a big mistake as the 23 year old answered with perfect returns near the line to take one from the Italian. Errani tried to answer with a perfect break of serve against Halep but the Romanian threatened deuce. She dug in through the break to get on level terms for the first time since the set began, hoping to be the one who had the chance at a win. She didn’t, as Halep battled back against the Italian’s serve to sit 5-4 to serve for the match.
In what was turning into a surprise for the strong number three-ranked player, the leverage was in her hands as Errani made unforced errors that inched Halep into a double match point. The shot she returned went into the net twice, completely decimating her margin and her racket in a show of anger.
With a new racket in hand, Halep earned a third match point but quickly turned into a break point for Errani to extend the set. She took a shot at the end of the rally flying wide of the court to return to deuce for a fourth time. As she captured the advantage for match point, Errani shot the ball that landed just long of the court to end the 95 battle on centre court.
The numbers from Halep had her around the same from the end of the first set making her skills look better than what the statistics had. She landed just 68 percent for points on Errani while returning well 48 percent of the time. The help from a huge number of Romanians in the stadium added to her success that now had her in her fourth final of the season.
“It was a little hard to deal with the tension during the match but I had nothing to lose because I had the long break,” Halep told Rennae Stubs of ESPN. “I had a tough match and she ran really well and I just played well enough to win the match.”
There now came the wait to see who she would face as the second semifinal between Serena Williams and 18 year old Swiss Star Belinda Bencic would determine her fate. “If I play against Serena I have nothing to lose it would be a big challenge for me,” Halep said. “I hope I have enough power to play the match. If I play against Bencic, I will fight to the end to win the match and play everything I know being focused for every ball, and win every ball because its very important to win matches.” alepHaep