Tagged in: simona halep

Simona Halep wins tournament title in Toronto for third time, outlasting Beatriz Haddad Maia

Simona Halep collected the National Bank Open on Sunday for the third time, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Halep, from Romania, also collected the title in 2016 and 2018 when it was called the Rogers Cup. It’s the 24th title of Halep’s career and first since switching to Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach.

The 26-year-old Haddad Maia, who is from Brazil, has never won a tennis tournament at this level before but has rocketed up the WTA Tour’s standings this year.

She upset three seeded players at the National Bank Open: 13th-seeded Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova in succession.

A year ago, Haddad Maia was ranked 183rd in the world, but entered this week’s tournament No. 24 and will crack the top 20 next week.

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Halep fell behind Haddad Maia 3-0 in the opening set and started yelling at herself.

Some Brazilian fans — many of them in yellow national soccer kit — started chanting “Bee-ah! Bee-ah!” to cheer on Haddad-Maia but they were soon drowned out by Romanian fans’ calls of “See-moh-nah! See-moh-nah!”

The chanting seemed to rouse Halep. A deep forehand return on set point that was just out of the reach of Haddad Maia’s extended racket sealed six consecutive games for Halep as she came back to take the first set.

Haddad Maia seemed to shake off that stunning comeback to start the second set, quickly winning the first two games and fending off Halep on two more for a 4-0 lead.

Although Halep won a game back to slow Haddad Maia slightly and make it 4-1, the younger Brazilian immediately reclaimed that momentum to make it 5-1.

Halep claimed another game before Haddad Maia could serve for the second set. Haddad Maia jumped out to a 40-15 advantage and then her serve handcuffed Halep to attain the set and force a decisive third and final set.

For the first time in the match, Halep opened a set with a game winner and took a 2-0 lead when Haddad Maia’s return of her forehand went long. Later, an overhand smash at the net by Halep completed her own unblemished game for a 5-2 lead.

Haddad Maia stayed in the match, winning another game. She made it 5-3 when her high backhanded volley dropped in for a point. Holding a 40-15 advantage in the ninth game of the third set, Halep clinched her first title in Toronto when Haddad Maia put her return into the net.

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Simona Halep advances in Citi Open ahead of Venus Williams’ return

Simona Halep earned her opening match at the Citi Open on Monday hours before another former No. 1-ranked women’s player returned to singles action for the first time in 2022.

Venus Williams is set to play her first singles match in nearly a year when she faces Canadian Rebecca Marino on the same court where the third-seeded Halep beat Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-3, 7-5 earlier in the day at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.

“I had a good run in Wimbledon, so it’s always tough to start,” Halep said of changing surfaces after the grass-court season. “But I’m really happy I won the match and I can play another match here.”

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Williams has not played a WTA singles game since losing to Su-Wei Hseih 6-2, 6-3 in Chicago on Aug. 23. She and partner Coco Gauff lost their doubles debut earlier this year at the French Open.

On the men’s side, Kyle Edmund beat qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (8) to win his first ATP Tour-level singles match since October 2020.

Edmund, who was once the top-ranked Brit and climbed as high as 14th in the world, was out while recovering from three knee surgeries.

During his rehab, Edmund pictured himself back on the court in moments like this.

“There was long periods where I was just out, couldn’t play, didn’t pick a racket up. … It just wasn’t fun at all,” he said. “These sort of matches or these events are something you imagine when you’re out.”

Countryman Andy Murray is set to play his first match of the tournament Monday afternoon versus Mikael Ymer of Sweden.

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Simona Halep cruises past Paula Badosa to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

Simona Halep is living up to her status as the only former Grand Slam champion left in this year’s women’s draw.

The Romanian defeated fourth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2 on Centre Court to return to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and extend her winning streak at the All England Club to 11 matches.

The 16th-seeded Halep won the title in 2019 but missed last year’s edition with an injury, while the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. This was, however, Halep’s first victory over a top-five ranked player on grass.

The former No. 1, who also won the French Open in 2018, has yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament and consistently got the better of Badosa in the baseline rallies. She concluded with only nine unforced errors and saved the only break point she faced.

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Badosa’s loss means No. 3 Ons Jabeur is the only top-10 seed left in the women’s tournament.

Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time after beating Petra Martic 7-5, 6-3.

The 17th-seeded Rybakina broke in the final game of the first set and then again for a 4-2 lead in the second. She concluded with 26 winners to 13 for her opponent.

Rybakina reached the French Open quarterfinals last year, when she made the fourth round at Wimbledon in her first appearance at the All England Club.

Martic was playing Wimbledon for the 10th time but has never been past the fourth round. Rybakina will next play Ajla Tomljanovic, who defeated Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday.

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Simona Halep beats second-ranked Paula Badosa, returns to Madrid Open last 16

Simona Halep played some of her best tennis at the Madrid Open again in defeating home-crowd favorite Paula Badosa in consecutive sets to reach the last 16 on Saturday for the seventh time in 11 appearances.

The two-time Madrid Open champion had 21 winners as she defeated No. 2-ranked Badosa 6-3, 6-1 on the Caja Mágica center court.

“I knew that I have to be for every point focused and to give everything I have, and I did it great today,” the 21st-ranked Halep said. “I’m really pleased with the way I played.”

Badosa, at a career-high ranking, converted only one of her seven break points versus Halep. The Spanish player broke through on home soil last year with a run to the Madrid semifinals as a 62nd-ranked wild card. “She’s played at a really good level, all of her merit, and I haven’t played very well,” Badosa said.

“I missed absolutely everything. That’s why I was only able to win four games. … At the important moments, the ball fell her side, and at the end of the day we just have to give her an applause. That’s why she’s a champion in this sport.”

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Halep won consecutive titles in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, and she was runner-up in 2014 and 2019.

She has 29 main-draw wins, behind only the 31 she has at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Only three-time champion Petra Kvitova has won more main-draw matches than Halep in Madrid, with 32.

“I’m happy to be on court, and this is the most important thing at this age,” the 30-year-old Halep said. “I improved a lot in these four weeks, and I’m still looking to improve more. I will take this match as, you know, a boost and confidence, because I played with one of the best players in the world.”

Unseeded in Madrid for the first time in nine years, Halep hadn’t played since Indian Wells in March. The Romanian player has been showing a more aggressive game under new coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

“I know is the way I want to play, we want to play,” she said. “We talked about it, and I trust 100% what Patrick tells me about the game. So I’m really happy and pleased that actually I can do it on court, because it’s different when you practice and with the official match. So the fact I could do it in the official match with one of the best players in the world gives me confidence.”

Another former No. 1, Victoria Azarenka, rallied past Tamara Zidansek 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in 2 hours, 20 minutes in her first match since the third round in Miami, where she retired for personal reasons.

Azarenka hadn’t obtained consecutive matches since the Australian Open. The two-time Grand Slam champion, seeded 15th in Madrid, last made it to the round of 16 in 2016.

Eighth-seeded Ons Jabeur defeated Varvara Gracheva 7-5, 0-6, 6-4, and Belinda Bencic defeated Karolina Muchova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. American Amanda Anisimova also needed three sets to rally past Petra Martic.

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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Halep defeats Mertens to win Prague title

World number two Simona Halep said she will reveal on Monday whether she will play at the U.S. Open.

Speaking after her triumph over Elise Mertens in the Prague Open final, the 28-year-old Romanian said “she just needed her time” to make a decision.

Halep was playing her first event since coronavirus pandemic shut down tennis in March, picking up where she left off six months ago when she won the title in Dubai.

After some rusty performances during the week, Halep found her groove to win 6-2 7-5 and said she was encouraged by her form and the health protocols put in place in Prague.

“We felt really safe here and all the rules were respected,” she told reporters. “It’s a bit stressful but the fact that everyone was good these 10 days means everything was done well.”

Halep had struggled past Polona Hercog in her first match of the week and was also far from her best versus Barbora Krejcikova and compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu. But apart from some understandable fatigue, she looked far more like herself versus Belgian Mertens, winning in one hour 33 minutes to earn her 21st career WTA trophy.

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Mertens blazed into a 2-0 lead with a flurry of winners, but Halep found her range from the baseline responded by reeling off seven successive games to take control.

Halep did not have things all her own way though and was broken back early in the second set as Mertens again went on the attack. A wobbly service game permitted Halep to move a break ahead again in the fifth game, although Mertens retaliated again to level the second set at 4-4.

Halep broke to lead 6-5 though and finished it off with a heavy forehand.

“Second set I was 4-2 up but dead and felt very tired,” she said. “But today, mentally I was really strong which allowed me to win in two sets.”

With world number one Ash Barty and 2019 U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal, as well as a host of other top players, already deciding against playing at Flushing Meadows, organizers will be hoping Halep says yes.

Halep has appeared reluctant to make the trip to the U.S., which is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said this week she needed to see what “changes” the organizers would make in terms of “travelling and stuff”.

The U.S. has around 5.5 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 172,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Concerns remain whether players would face mandatory quarantine if they travel to Europe from the U.S. for claycourt events in September, although Halep said she now believed that players would not need to quarantine. U.S. Open organizers are creating a bio-secure bubble in New York with tough protocols to hold the tournament from Aug. 31 without fans.

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