The No.2 seed Simona Halep moved into the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open on Friday, claiming a challenging win over World No.7 Johanna Konta, 6-4, 7-6(1).
Today I played the best match so far this tournament. I could hit the ball. I could move well. I feel good, and I feel thankful with the way I played tonight. Simona Halep
The most recent meeting between Halep and Konta was a two-and-a-half-hour marathon at Wimbledon, which Konta won in three tough sets, preventing Halep from ascending to the World No.1 ranking at that time.
On Friday night, Halep avenged that loss in one hour and 49 minutes, keeping her hopes alive of attaining the top ranking on Monday.
“Today I played the best match so far this tournament. I could hit the ball. I could move well,” Halep said. “I feel the rhythm. It’s back, so I’m positive again. I’m on it again. I feel good, and I feel thankful with the way I played tonight. It was really good.”
Halep squandered a 5-2 lead in the second set and Konta saved five match points to bring her to a second-set tiebreaker.
The British No. 1 saved two match points with Halep serving at 5-3, then another three to dig out of a 0-40 hole while serving at 5-6.
But Halep never hung her head and took control to play a dominant tiebreaker and seal the victory over the Briton.
“I was upset but in a good way. I think I motivated myself, also the tough moments that I had after she came back at 5-all and also 6-5, 0-40, but then I could finish the tiebreak so strong, so everything is fine,” the Romanian said. “I didn’t wait, like, the mistake or something like this. I just took it. I knew she could stay there. She’s very strong. I said that if I feel my legs, I’m stronger, so I have just to be there and to push her back and to hit the balls.”
Halep, the 2015 Cincinnati runner-up, will now take on resurgent American wild card Sloane Stephens in tomorrow’s semifinals. Halep holds a 4-2 lead in their head-to-head, including a straight-set victory in the first round of Washington earlier this summer.
“The match in Washington wasn’t easy at all. First set was really tough, and the second set, as well. I just got the lead and then was a little bit easier for me,” Halep assessed. “I expect very tough one. It is always tough to play against her. Her forehand, it’s strong, big. She’s serving well.
“I just have, in my opinion, to be like today with the desire of winning with confidence and positive things. I can’t do anything else – just go there and play my best, trying to play my best.”
For the second straight day, Garbiñe Muguruza came through a marathon match, this time edging Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the semifinals, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.
Playing with a heavy heart after Thursday’s terrorist attack at home in Barcelona, Muguruza showed her support for all those effected from across the ocean, wearing a black ribbon on her visor.
“I thought about wearing it, but I was playing in a dark outfit, so I thought no. I decided to have it on my visor,”
Meanwhile Top seed Karolina Pliskova put together a dominant performance against Caroline Wozniacki to charge into the semifinals in straight sets.
The World No.1 stayed rock-solid on serve, not letting Wozniacki break once, to seal the 6-2, 6-4 victory in just 66 minutes.