The first match of quarter-finals day at the 2015 Rogers Cup featured a bagel-breadstick sandwich as Simona Halep started slowly but finished in style, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska, 0-6 6-3 6-1. It was a strange match with neither playing their best at the same time. Radwanska made the much brighter start in the first set as she took advantage of a slack opening set from Halep; the pair each hit six winners but it was Halep’s 15 unforced errors that was the difference. Halep looked a little lethargic which was understandable after slugging it out with Angelique Kerber in a physical quarter-final match that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
Halep was tentative at the beginning of the second set as she tried to eliminate the errors that were dominating her game. The Romanian player won three games in a row to lead 3-1 but she still didn’t look comfortable as Radwanska levelled up at 3-3. The real turning point came in the seventh game of the second set. As Radwanska served at 30-30, the pair played one of the best points of the match with Halep winning it with a scrambling one-handed lob. She then broke with an aggressive return setting up a simple putaway and didn’t look back, winning the next two games to force a decider.
Halep looked completely energised after that seventh game and went on to win nine of the last ten games. Halep settled into a groove and looked so much more comfortable, having the confidence to hit down-the-line and also come into the net to close points out. At the same time, Radwanska faded rather dramatically in the third set; Radwanska is now 6-11 in three set matches in 2015 with seven of those losses coming with a 6-0, 6-1 or 6-2 final set scoreline. She did well to recover a 4-2 third set deficit against Alizé Cornet in the third round, but she really had no answers against Halep.
Halep sounded very positive in press and said that her slow start in the first set was because of the rain which interrupted her pre-match warm-up (Via Courtney Nguyen on @WTA_Insider who is doing a great job and is well worth a follow on Twitter)…
Halep will play Sara Errani in the semi-finals after the Italian player backed up her win over Victoria Azarenka with another straight sets victory, beating Lesia Tsurenko, 6-4 6-4. Errani utilised the drop shot early on to great effect as she raced into a *5-0 lead. Tsurenko mounted a comeback, managing to find a balance between being aggressive and keeping the ball in court as Errani’s invention faded. Eventually, Errani wrapped up the set, 6-4. Tsurenko showed signs of coming back in the second set; she had four break points at 2-1 but failed to convert. After all the struggles of closing out the first set, Errani had no such problems with wrapping up the match to prevail, 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes.
Halep leads the head-to-head with Errani, 2-1 and has won their last two matches in straight sets with victories in Doha, (6-2 6-0, 2014) and Stuttgart (6-4 6-4, 2015). Their most recent encounter in Stuttgart saw 16 breaks in 20 games and was a high quality encounter. The slow court surface suits both players well. Halep has been erratic at times but her rapidly rising confidence makes her dangerous. Errani’s serve is an obvious weakness but it just shows how strong she is from the baseline and on a court like this, she is tough to break down. Halep though has the ability to create angles and I think she’ll be too strong for Errani in this one.
Prediction: Halep d. Errani in 2 sets
Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography