The showdown between French Open champion lived up the hype on Sunday in Rome. Simona Halep outlasted Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the final of the Rome Masters.
Halep, who has now won her last 13 matches following Dubai and Prague wins, lost four straight games toward the end of the second, but then regrouped in the third, building a 5-1 lead before hanging on — she broke Muguruza to win the match!
“She’s a very, very difficult player and a good player,” Halep said. “It’s always a good feeling when I win against her.
“I feel confident now that I was able to win this match. I know I had so many chances to maybe finish it a little bit faster and easier, but as we saw, she doesn’t give up.”
Halep, a 2-time Rome finalist, will bid for her first title there against No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova who ousted countrywoman Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 6-4. Pliskova won the title last year over Johanna Konta.
“It’s been a strange relationship with clay, but it’s not like I ever hated it,” said Pliskova. “If anything, I hate grass more. I’ve had some great weeks on clay, making the semis in Paris, so it’s not like I don’t look forward to the surface. It’s a nice change because we spend a quite a long time on hardcourts.”
Halep leads Pliskova 7-4 but Pliskova has won the last two. Halep needed three sets in a win in the 2017 French Open semifinals.
“I can’t say I was in the mental state I am now back then, because at the time, playing Simona on clay would have felt like no chance,” Pliskova said. “Now, I would go for it more and believe I could beat her. We’ve had a lot of good matches.
“It’s going to be super tough because she’s fighting hard, won the tournament in Prague and is into the final here. It’s never going to be easy against her, no matter the tournament, but it’s going to be a great final.”
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