Romania's Halep advances to Cincinnati Masters women's singles final

 Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, world number one, advanced to the women's singles final at the 2,874,299-USD Western & Southern Open tournament in Cincinnati (Ohio), after defeating Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6 -3 6-4 in Friday's semis.

Halep, 26, had a consistent play and prevailed in an hour and 16 minutes over 20-year-old Sabalenka, world number 34.

The start of the match was fairly balanced, but Simona Halep managed the break in the third game, but she failed to consolidate it. She then led 4-2, with the Belarusian winning her serve, but then Halep succeeded two game balls in a row to win the first set 6-3.

In the second set, Halep won against Sabalenka's serve, but the latter fought back to a 3-3 tie. Both played their serves well, with Halep saving three break balls, after which she managed to win the set against Belarussian's serve (6-4).

Halep scored an ace, did not make any double fault and had excellent percentages for services, 64 percent for the first and 62 percent for the second, scored 6 winners and only made 15 unforced errors. Sabalenka managed 7 aces, double-faulted three times, scored 30 winners and made 36 unforced errors.

Halep had defeated Sabalenka early in the year, in Shenzhen, 6-2 6-2, winning the title.

Top seed Halep, also a Cincinnati Masters finalist in 2015 and 2017, will face Dutch Kiki Bertens in the 2018 final, who defeated Czech Petra Kvitova, 28, world number six, 3-6 6-4 6-2.

Halep won 262,364 US dollars and 585 WTA singles points. She leads 3-1 the head -to-head count versus 26-year-old Bertens, world number 17 WTA, with Halep's latest win coming in the 2017 Rome Masters semis,7-5 6-1.

For Halep, the Cincinnati final will be the 33rd in her career, having so far won 18 titles. She got six titles in Nurnberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia in 2013; two in Doha and Bucharest in 2014; three in Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells in 2015; three in Madrid, Bucharest and Montreal in 2016; in 2017 shewon in Madrid, and this year she has won the finals in Shenzhen, Roland Garros and Montreal.

Halep has also played 14 finals in 2010 and 2011 in Fes (Morocco); in Brussels in 2012; in Madrid, Roland Garros and the WTA Finals in Singapore in 2014; in Toronto and Cincinnati in 2015, as well as in Rome, Roland Garros, Cincinnati and Beijing in 2017, and this year at the Australian Open and the Italian Open.

She has also won a WTA doubles title this year in Shenzhen, alongside Irina Begu, and reached the 2016 Rogers Cup doubles final in 2016, paired up with Monica Niculescu. AGERPRES (RO - editor: Mihai Tenea; EN - author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu)

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