Halep, Stephens square off in Mon­treal

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

MON­TREAL: Sloane Stephens sent de­fend­ing cham­pion Elina Svi­tolina crash­ing out of the WTA Canada tour­na­ment in Mon­treal on Sat­ur­day to set up a re­match of the French Open fi­nal against Si­mona Halep.

Amer­i­can third seed Stephens surged into the fi­nal against world No.1 Halep af­ter over­pow­er­ing Svi­tolina 6-3, 6-3 in the day’s sec­ond semi-fi­nal.

Stephens had dom­i­nated the first set, scor­ing two early breaks to race into a 4-0 lead against a hes­i­tant Svi­tolina.

Svi­tolina ral­lied briefly to get back to 5-3 but then handed Stephens another break and the first set when she sent a fore­hand wide.

The sec­ond set was a sim­i­lar story, with Stephens go­ing 3-1 up af­ter an early break.

The 25-year-old from Florida then over­came a wob­ble in the fifth game, when she dou­ble-faulted three times be­fore even­tu­ally hold­ing for a 4-1 lead and clos­ing out the set.

US Open win­ner Stephens has only beaten the Ro­ma­nian twice in their pre­vi­ous eight meet­ings.

Halep, who de­feated Stephens in three sets at Roland Gar­ros in June, ear­lier cruised past Aus­tralia’s Ash­leigh Barty 6-4, 6-1 to book her place in the fi­nal.

Halep was in con­trol from the out­set against a ner­vous-look­ing Barty, whose chal­lenge was un­done by a string of unforced er­rors.

Barty was in trou­ble on her open­ing ser­vice game, an er­ror giv­ing French Open cham­pion Halep a break point which she duly con­verted with a su­perb back­hand cross­court win­ner.

The next three games went with serve to leave Halep 3-1 up and the 26-year-old then bagged her sec­ond break in the fifth game when another Barty er­ror let Halep off the hook to take the game to deuce.

A sen­sa­tional back­hand win­ner down the line gave Halep a break point and when Barty limply re­turned into the net on the next ex­change she found her­self 4-1 down.

Barty grabbed a con­so­la­tion break of serve to make it 4-2, but was un­able to claw back another break as Halep took the first set 6-4.

Halep went for the jugu­lar in the sec­ond set, open­ing with two quick breaks to take a 3-0 lead. Barty of­fered a flicker of re­sis­tance in the fourth game af­ter earn­ing three break points to go to 0-40.

But once again Halep’s ex­pe­ri­ence came to the fore and she fought back to deuce and saved another break point be­fore hold­ing for 4-0.

Both play­ers then held be­fore Halep soon took three match points at 0-40 in the sev­enth game.

Barty fought back to deuce to de­lay the in­evitable, but Halep se­cured another break to reach her third Cana­dian fi­nal in four years.

EPA

Sloane Stephens re­acts af­ter win­ning a set against Elina Svi­tolina.

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