Simona Halep is a two-time National Bank Open champion, last winning the Canadian championship in 2018. But the 30-year-old says she’s a completely different person now.
The Romanian advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament after beating Coco Gauff of the United States 6-4, 7-6 on Friday afternoon. Halep said she has grown on and off the court since she last won the tournament then known as the Rogers Cup four years ago.
“I’ve also changed a lot as a person,” said Halep, who also won the 2016 tournament. “As a player, I don’t know exactly what I did but I feel like I’ve progressed. in many ways, then the pandemic came, so I think it was a little struggle for everyone.
“But I’m a better person. I’m a better player. So this helps me and gives me the confidence to work hard.”
The tournament’s top six seeds were eliminated by the Round of 16, making seventh seed Jessica Pegula the highest-rated player at the WTA event. She beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-3 in their quarter-final and will face Halep on Saturday.
Pegula says that despite being the highest seed left in the league, that doesn’t mean she has a clear path to a second title of her career.
“I feel like these days anyone can do well,” says Pegula. “And, of course, I play Halep, a great champion.
“So no, it’s never easy. It’s nice to see me as the top seed but I don’t really think it means anything at this point.”
Halep and Pegula have never played together before. During his post-match press conference, Halep glanced at the nearby television where Pegula was playing for the match against Putintseva.
“It’s going to be a big challenge facing a new opponent, but it’s always been like that,” Halep said. “But it will be a semi-final so for sure she will play good tennis.
“She’s very solid. She’s already on top.”
Then, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos beat Andreja Klepac of Slovenia and Alexa Guarachi of Chile 2-6, 6-2 (10) to advance to the doubles semi-finals.
Dabrowski and Olmos will face Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the US and Ellen Perez of Australia in the semi-finals.
Gauff and Pegula then teamed up in their doubles quarterfinals, winning 6-3, 2-6 (10) over Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands and Desirae Krawczyk of the US to advance to the semifinals.
The American pair will face Madison Keys of the United States and Sania Mirza of India, who defeated Sofia Kenin of the United States and Putintseva 7-5, 3-6 (10) in the quarter-final doubles matches today. Friday.
The quarter-final between Halep and Gauff was the only singles match at the National Bank Open on Friday against two seeds. Gauff was the 10th seed of the tournament and Halep was 15th.
Halep is currently leading 4-0 in singles matches against Gauff on the WTA Tour. She believes that the 18-year-old American tennis player is becoming more and more dangerous as an opponent.
“She’s a little stronger. She hit harder and today served a lot stronger. Her backhand is always hard,” said Halep, who last played Gauff in Madrid earlier this season. “I think she’s improved a lot since we played last time.”
In the quarterfinals that followed, 12th seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland faced Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil and 14th seed Karolina Pliskova was scheduled to face Zheng Qinwen of China.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 12, 2022.