Halep, Kontaveit to square off for Cluj-Napoca title

A pair of straight-sets victories by prime seed Simona Halep and No.2 seed Anett Kontaveit on Saturday arrange a winner-take-all finale on the Transylvania Open.

After Kontaveit dropped simply 5 video games within the first semifinal in opposition to Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, dwelling favourite Halep additionally wanted simply over an hour to safe a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk. Halep has now reached a remaining in 12 consecutive seasons. 

In a rematch of their second spherical match from the BNP Paribas Open three weeks in the past, the place Halep trailed by a break within the first set in an eventual 7-6(2), 6-1 victory, the previous world No.1 was dominant from the beginning: she broke serve six occasions, saved the one break level she confronted in her first service recreation of the match, and served at 71 p.c.

“I actually wished to play the ultimate right here. It is a dwelling match and all the time once I come right here, I really feel nice. I am actually completely satisfied, motivated and I am trying ahead to play the ultimate tomorrow,” Halep stated on-court after the match. 

“I knew that I needed to play a bit of bit sooner, extra aggressive and to open the courtroom a bit of bit extra. There [at Indian Wells], she did not miss very a lot as she did immediately, however I feel I took the ball sooner and faster, and the serve helped me immediately.”

Although each gamers struck an analogous whole of winners, with Halep hitting 10 and Kostyuk hanging 11, the Ukrainian teenager racked up 3 times Halep’s variety of unforced errors: 38 to 12. The World No.55 received her lone recreation of the match with a service maintain to start out the second set, and saved three match factors earlier than succumbing.

Halep is bidding for her third profession title on dwelling soil, having received in Bucharest on clay in 2014 and 2016. It might be simply her second title on onerous courts previously three years, and her first title general since profitable final yr’s rescheduled Internazionali BNL d’Italia in September.

“I am simply making an attempt to offer my finest, making an attempt to be aggressive and revel in. Once I smile inside, it seems to be higher exterior,” Halep stated. “I’ve the entire nation with me once I play at dwelling, in order that’s why I am motivated, that is why I really feel secure and powerful on the courtroom, and I all the time need to play my finest.

“I received twice in Bucharest and, hopefully, tomorrow’s the fortunate three, but when not, it is nonetheless a great end result and it is good to be dwelling.” 

Kontaveit retains WTA Finals hopes alive with semifinal win over Peterson

In the meantime, Kontaveit’s newest profitable streak hit 9 matches because of a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Sweden’s Peterson. The 63-minute victory, the Estonian’s twenty fifth in her final 27 matches, put her right into a fourth remaining in her final seven tournaments and sixth of the yr general. 

“I have been feeling actually good on the courtroom, and immediately wasn’t as simple because the scoreboard appeared. I actually needed to combat for it,” Kontaveit stated on-court after the match.

“Every thing’s been fairly computerized [for me] this week. I have been making an attempt to get by every match in addition to I can. I feel I have been enjoying properly, I have been enjoying aggressive, and my photographs have so much on them.

“Earlier than the quarterfinals, within the second spherical, I used to be feeling my physique a bit of bit however it’s really been getting a bit of bit higher. I actually have the motivation and I am making an attempt to do my finest out right here.”

Damaged simply as soon as within the match, Kontaveit misplaced simply 13 factors in 9 service video games, served seven aces and broke serve herself 4 occasions. She additionally hit 23 winners to Peterson’s 4.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be simple as a result of Rebecca is an efficient participant. I actually needed to work onerous for it immediately,” Kontaveit informed reporters after the match.

“I feel I do know Rebecca since we’re like eight years outdated. We grew up enjoying collectively, comparable tournaments. Her dad and mom are literally Estonian so I do know her household fairly properly. We have all the time been fairly shut.”

Photograph by Transylvania Open

Kontaveit stormed out of the gates in her first tour-level assembly in opposition to Peterson – the pair beforehand performed in Billie Jean King Cup zonal competitors two years in the past – by profitable the primary 5 video games with the lack of simply seven factors.

After saving a set level for a bagel, Peterson received three straight video games – together with her lone break within the match at 5-1 – earlier than Kontaveit served out the set at her second alternative. 

A love break to start out the second saved the No.2 seed within the lead for the period, as she by no means confronted break level within the set’s 4 service video games. After being pushed to deuce serving at 1-0, she misplaced only one level on serve from then on, and sealed victory together with her third love maintain of the match.

A victory in Sunday’s remaining would additionally earn Kontaveit the eighth and remaining spot within the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara, surpassing Ons Jabeur. Neither girl has ever certified for the WTA Finals, and Kontaveit is winless in opposition to Halep, having by no means received a set in three profession conferences.

“I’ve actually been targeted on what I’ve to do, taking it match by match, and simply not pondering forward an excessive amount of. I feel that is the principle factor that is helped me keep targeted on every match and the duty that I’ve,” ” Kontaveit stated.

“It is bodily not simple however I have been enjoying some good tennis and I am actually proud of the best way I’ve managed to get by this week once more. Only a lot to play for and I feel it is one thing to essentially get pleasure from and go for.

“Simona’s such an important participant. I’ve misplaced to her a number of occasions already, however I feel that I am enjoying extra persistently, enjoying a bit of higher. It will be a troublesome battle.”

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