By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati
- Simona Halep  v Garbiñe Muguruza 
- Head to head – Muguruza leads 2-1
- For the third time the World No. 1 is within Halep’s grasp
CINCINNATI, USA – Simona Halep is just one win away from a first Cincinnati title and the World No. 1 spot, with Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza standing in her way.
Simona Halep  v Garbiñe Muguruza  – H2H: Muguruza leads 2-1
The final pace was set with two very dominant displays in the semi-finals. First into the berth was Garbiñe Muguruza, who steamed past a flat Karolina Pliskova. The defending champion and current World No. 1 looked to be suffering from the effects of playing three matches in the space of 24 hours.
Muguruza served well, and put on a powerful display but she backed up with an all-round presence that left Pliskova on the back foot throughout, as she closed out a very comfortable 6-3 6-2 win.
Pliskova, who faces losing her No. 1 spot this weekend, said: “I don’t think I played my best tennis today. I think the energy was pretty low from my side today. Obviously tough schedule for me last two days: three matches in about not even 24 hours.
“I think she played very solid today, not missing much and obviously serving well. The percentage from her side was pretty high, as well. Everything started, I think even in the first game of the first set, my serve, and then obviously the second game. I had some chances in the second set. So just credit to her, but definitely not the best for me.”
For Muguruza it was a rare win against an opponent who had the measure of her in their previous meetings, trailing 1-6.
She said, in her post-match press conference: “I think I was very precise with my shots. I also played very well. I don’t know. I wanted just to be more aggressive, you know, trying to take my shots, don’t think a lot about her, because I know she played very aggressive, as well. I’m working hard on trying to face these aggressive opponents. So today I felt a little bit better.”
With the second semi-final still to come, Muguruza assessed Simona Halep as her possible opponent:
“She’s playing very good. She’s strong and, you know, she has a lot of matches. I saw her a little bit these days, so tough. Solid opponent.”
Solid like a wall more like, as Halep absolutely battered Sloane Stephens off the court. She had come out swinging hard against Johanna Konta, and brought that same energy to the court as she halted the American’s run since her return from injury.
It seemed Halep could not put a foot wrong, and the confidence she got from the quarter-final even saw her not call her coach Darren Cahill down from the stands.
She said: “I played my best, I think, match on hard court so far. I felt great on court. Now I feel better, actually. I think the match from yesterday gave me a lot of confidence, and since yesterday I started to feel the game, to feel that I can hit the ball. So today was much better. I moved very well today. I just feel good. That’s why maybe I can play. I have no pressure.”
We can expect powerful hitting and aggressive play from both players, but Halep’s movement especially in her quarter-final was second to none, and so Muguruza can expect to be pulled around the court a lot. Halep is a gritty scrambler who will have to trust in her legs and speed to create the points and force Muguruza into the errors.
Halep said of the match up: “I played few times against her, and I know she’s very aggressive. She stays close to the baseline, and she hits everything. I have just to respond fast and, like, strong with my legs, move well, and just to push her back. I’ll try everything tomorrow. I have just to go there and to play another final, which is great.”
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
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