This has been a busy weekend for me as I am in Coventry celebrating my cousin’s wedding. Therefore, I haven’t been too focused on the tennis! This is a snappy Set Points to cover Saturday’s Western & Southern Open semi-finals and share more super Cincy photos from Omar Boraby.
The first of the semi-finals saw Garbine Muguruza snap a six match losing streak and beat the world number one, Karolina Pliskova for the first time since the 2013 French Open in their very first meeting. Muguruza won, 6-3 6-2 in just 79 minutes.
Muguruza was not broken in any of her nine service games as, surprisingly, it was Pliskova who struggled on serve, winning just 25% of points on her second serve. Pliskova was very complimentary about Muguruza in press but said that energy was low on her side (via WTA Insider). This is understandable considering she played two matches on Friday.
For Muguruza, she’s into just her eighth final – three of those were Slam finals! This will be Muguruza’s first appearance in the final of a WTA event since Beijing 2015 when she beat Timea Bacsinszky.
I’m thrilled to see Garbiñe push on since Wimbledon and this has been a stunning run in Cincy – she secured two hard fought three set wins in the third round and quarter-finals over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys respectively (saved three match points vs. Keys). This was then followed up by her fourth win over a world number one. In fact, Muguruza has a 4-2 record against world number ones and is 3-0 since 2016 (d. S.Williams at French Open, d. Kerber at Wimbledon and d. Pliskova at Cincy).
The second semi-final was even quicker as Simona Halep extended her excellent record at the Western & Southern Open to 17-6 by reaching her second Cincy final with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Sloane Stephens in just 54 minutes.
By virtue of the win, Halep is just five ranking points away from being the world number one! It’s not the first time that she has been one match away and on Sunday, she’ll once again go for history. Simona spoke about it in press…
Great shots of Simona from her semi-final win by Omar Boraby.
Again, not to be for Sloane in a Premier 5 semi-final having reached the same stage of Toronto last week… but what an amazing two weeks! The American needed matches and she got that and then some, scoring seven top 50 wins along the way. Sloane is down to play New Haven next week (vs. Elena Vesnina in R1) and she’ll be one player that the seeds want to avoid at the US Open in a week’s time.
Love this shot of Sloane!
Sunday’s final will be contested between Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza – i’ve been waiting for this match-up again for so long! I thought we might get it last week in Toronto. The pair haven’t played since Stuttgart in 2015 when Halep came from a set down to win, 3-6 6-1 6-3. Muguruza leads the head-to-head overall, 2-1, winning their two previous hard court matches in Wuhan (2-6 6-2 6-3, 2014) and Fed Cup in Romania (6-4 6-3).
Once again, the pressure and expectation of getting to world number one looms for Halep, yet she seemed to be joking about it in press and she’s been here before several times this year. I could really see this one going either way and it’s tough to call since there are few data points to go with this match-up. I’ll tentatively go with Simona!
The final starts at 2pm local time (7pm UK time) and I am so excited about it – I should be home to watch after the weekend’s fesitivities! Stay tuned for Omar’s last set of photos coming on Monday 😀