Halep targets first Cincinnati title

Simona Halep heads into Sunday’s Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati hoping to put one of the heaviest defeats of her professional career, last time out in the 2017 final, behind her.

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In the 2017 Cincinnati final, against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, World No.1 Halep was hammered 6-1, 6-0.

Halep, who will be up against Dutch player Kiki Bertens in Sunday’s final, is a very much changed player mentally since that 2017 loss to Muguruza, reaching six WTA tournament finals, winning the French Open and is on a 10-match winning streak after winning the Canadian Open last week.

“After that one (2017 Cincinnati final) I said that I will not give up like that and I will not let the pressure to dominate me,” Halep told the press, when asked about her last showing in the Cincinnati final.

“So I changed that, and I feel that I can control those moments and those feelings better.”

The 26-year-old Bertens told reporters she was looking forward to facing Halep and was expecting a great match.

“I think that’s going to be a great match,” Bertens said. “Halep is playing some great tennis. Won of course last week. She’s having her shots there.

“I’m really happy that I’m in this final. For me, it doesn’t matter who’s gonna win.”

Halep, who leads the head-to-head meetings with Bertens 3-1, said she is expecting a flat, hard-hitting encounter on Sunday.

“I know she hits flat. She hits, like, low, very low balls. She’s serving well. So I will try just to keep the attention on myself and to do my game.”