WTA Cincinnati, Semi-Final Preview: Angelique Kerber v Simona Halep

Halep

Two super semi-finals are on Saturday’s schedule at the Western & Southern Open; arguably the two in-form players on the WTA tour go head-to-head in the second of the semis at not before 2.30pm local time in Cincinnati with the number two seed, Angelique Kerber taking on the number three seed, Simona Halep.

Kerber was first into the semi-finals, scrapping her way from a set and a break down to beat Carla Suárez Navarro, 4-6 6-3 6-0. The conditions were pretty brutal and Kerber was both passive and sluggish in the first set, clearly showing the effects of an intense few months on the WTA tour. Suárez Navarro put together a 12 point streak to win the opener and then go up an early break in the second set. However, Kerber began to play a little more aggressively and showed impressive resolve, winning two tight deuce games to go ahead on serve.

As Kerber began to settle, Suárez Navarro started to mis-fire with a avalanche of unforced errors. Kerber won 10 of the last 11 games, powering home with a bagel third set. It was closer than the 6-0 scoreline suggested but the break point conversions told a story: Suárez Navarro was 0/5 while Kerber took all three of her break point opportunities in the third set. For Kerber, it was yet another match where she wasn’t playing even close to her best tennis but she hung around and won the big points, contributing to Suárez Navarro’s downfall.

In the final quarter-final, Halep fought back from a 0-4 first set deficit, winning 13 of the last 15 games to beat Agnieszka Radwanska, 7-5 6-1. Halep made a poor start as she struggled to find her range from the baseline. Despite losing her serve to go down 0-4 she began to show positive signs, moving her feet and trying to dictate play. I was impressed that Halep didn’t get down on herself and was pretty positive in her attitude. The down-the-line shot wasn’t working but she changed it up with more cross-court balls – her coach, Darren Cahill approved of this on the changeover at the end of the first set.

There was a pivotal point in the game at 4-1 where Radwanska had the upper hand on a break point coming forward but surprisingly netted. Halep began to win more of the mini-battles; Radwanska had game points in the next three games but Halep edged them all, levelling up at 4-4. The Romanian player was now in control but failed to serve out the opener at 5-4 as Radwanska produced a magical pick-up down set point that earnt a racquet clap from Halep.

Radwanska broke back but then played a tame service game at 5-5 to drop serve once again. Halep recovered from *0-30 down in her second attempt at serving out the set, rolling off four straight points and playing a tactically superb set point that she finished with a cute drop shot (see video in tweet below).

After an exchange of breaks at the start of the second set, Halep won five straight games as she comfortably eased her way into the semi-finals of Cincy for the second straight year. Halep’s second serve was vulnerable (21% of second serve points won) but she was lethal on return as she broke Radwanska’s serve eight consecutive times. In fact, Radwanska’s only holds were her first two service games.

Head-to-head record: Halep leads Kerber, 4-2 in their head-to-head. The pair will be playing for the fourth time in 2016; Kerber secured her first ever win over Halep in Fed Cup action and won their most high profile encounter at Wimbledon in a tight two set quarter-final. In their most recent match, Halep overcame a mid-match wobble to win in three sets in Montreal, 6-0 3-6 6-2.

Interesting stats: Halep is currently on a 13 match winning streak having won her two previous tournaments in Bucharest and Montreal, and has posted a superb 26-3 W-L record stretching back to Madrid. Kerber hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of winning run but she’s been super consistent, arguably enjoying her best spell of the season so far. The Aussie Open champ has won 20 of her last 23 matches since the French Open.

Final thoughts: It’s nice to see three of the top four seeds into the semi-finals in Cincy and Kerber-Halep is becoming a stalwart WTA match-up. Halep showed great resilience in her quarter-final, not panicking when she lost the first four games. Her confidence is obviously sky-high and having not played the Olympics, she should be feeling much fresher than Kerber. The German player has been mentally sound of late but understandably, she has looked physically fatigued in her last two matches. Kerber has the lure of world number one which may help to overcome weary legs but it will take something special from Kerber (and quick!) to overcome an in-form Halep.

Halep for the win.

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

8 thoughts on “WTA Cincinnati, Semi-Final Preview: Angelique Kerber v Simona Halep

  1. I want Halep to win for selfish reasons, because I want to see Serena surpass Graf for most consecutive weeks at #1. I do think Simona wins their match up pretty easily since she’s able to really frustrate Kerber into making errors.

    Like

    • Haha…can understand your reasons. I’d love to see Angie winning though. However, I think there’s not much left in her tank and Simona is playing really really well these days. I hope she’s transferring this form to the US Open and will win her maiden slam.

      Like

      • I think the US Open is still Serena’s to win, barring any injury. But I think Halep will be one to watch at the Year End Championships, since I fancy her in matchups with all of the current top ten.

        Like

      • Do you think she will be fully fit in just one week? I felt like her shoulder injury is worse than expected, otherwise she would have played in Cincy and try to stay on top with a quarter final showing.
        But I agree: IF she’s healty she’s always the favourite.

        Like

      • I think not playing this week was precautionary rather than being unable to compete. I may be wrong of course.

        Like

  2. i think it’s about tactics… serena get wild card, got the number 1 seeds… and leave the tournament when the draw was clear , when she know kerber and halep in one half of draw and will battle each other So she will be number 1 for another weeks and can surpass graf and off course be healthy when 2017 us open starts

    Like

  3. Okay now Pliskova is in the final I kinda want Kerber to win so that Karolina has a better chance haha! Be awesome for Pliskova if she won this title, by far her biggest career achievement!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s