Tournament favorites Simona Halep and Elise Mertens will meet Sunday in the WTA clay final in Prague. Both advanced with straight set wins in their semifinals.
Mertens hung on to deny a pesky Kristyna Pliskova 7-5, 7-6(4). Pliskova led 3-0 in the second set breaker before Mertens took seven of the next eight points for the match.
“It was a really close match, just a couple of points of difference,” said Mertens. “We both served well, so it was difficult to break each other, especially when our first serve was in. She can hit balls either way, so it was difficult to get the point started.
“In the end, it was just one break difference in the first set and I think I managed it well at the end. In the second set, we were both winning our serve, and although I made a couple of errors in the tiebreak, I stayed mentally tough.”
Mertens will seek her sixth career WTA title against Halep who eased past compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6(2), 6-3.
“I didn’t play my best tennis but also she was tired, so in my opinion, it was a good match,” Halep said. “I’m really happy that I could win it. It’s always tough to play against her. She’s a great player.”
Halep leads the Belgian 3-1 in their head-to-head.
“The final is always difficult. It doesn’t matter what we did before,” said Halep who will bid for a 21st title. “I’m going to give my best because I really want to win it, but it’s never easy. I’ll just try to recover until tomorrow and enjoy that I’m going to play another final.
“I’m confident that I can play good tennis against her, but she’s a very tough opponent as well. I’m just trying to fight, to keep fighting until the end and to never give up.”
Said Mertens, “I played her at the Australian Open this year and it was a close one.
“I’ll try to improve, see what I can do better. I’ll try to do that today and tomorrow morning, but I’ll just try to focus on my main things: a good serve and a good return.”
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