Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza will contest the Western & Southern final after comprehensive semifinal wins on Saturday in Cincinnati.
The No. 2-seeded Halep dismissed wild card Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1, improving to 5-2 career against the American.
Halep won the final six games to close out the match against Stephens, who was also a semifinalist the previous week in Toronto after returning from foot surgery. It is Halep’s second time in the Cincinnati final after losing to Serena Williams in 2015.
If Halep beats Muguruza in the final she will ascend to the No. 1 ranking for the first time.
“I just want to go tomorrow and play my game,” Halep said, repeating perhaps the most overused statement in women’s tennis. “If it’s going to happen, great, but if not I will have more opportunities. Hopefully I can do it. I have the desire.”
It will be her third opportunity this year to take the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career.
“Maybe tomorrow is my turn,” Halep said, providing more filler. “I have to give my best and fight and if I win it’s going to be really special. It’s a great opportunity. But for sure it’s going to be a tough match against a Grand Slam champion.”
The Spaniard Muguruza on Saturday easily put out current No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2.
“To beat the player that is now No. 1, it’s very good match always,” Muguruza said. “I felt pretty good out there and in control. Everything was going my way.”
Pliskova was the defending champion, and Muguruza will be appearing in her first Cincinnati final.
“Today I think I was very precise with my shots,” said Muguruza, who broke in the first game of the match to set the tone. “I wanted just to be more aggressive, trying to take my shots, and not 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.”
Pliskova, on the other hand, did not.
“I don’t think I played my best tennis today,” the Czech said. “I think the energy was pretty low from my side today. Obviously, it was a tough schedule for me last two days — three matches in about not even 24 hours.”
Muguruza leads the head-to-head with Halep 2-1, though the two players haven’t faced each other in more than two years.
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