Halep to face Bertens in Ohio decider

Top seed Simona Halep will face Kiki Bertens in the final of the Cincinnati Open on Sunday after downing Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4.

Sabalenka had beaten Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia and Karolina Pliskova during a blazing run to the semis, but Halep’s pace and power was enough to see the Romanian home.

Halep went 2-1 up with an early break and although the 20-year old Belarusian hit straight back, the world number one had enough to break again and seal the first set.

The second set was almost an action replay as the duo traded breaks before Halep fended off three break points in game nine, and then earned the deciding break at the second attempt in the next game.

Halep is gunning for a second title in two weeks after last week’s triumph at the Rogers Cup.

“It was a big challenge for me to have an opponent that is so young and winning so good matches and tough matches before with confidence very high,” Halep said afterwards. “It was a big challenge. And today when I stepped on the court, I said that I have just to relax and to play my game, which I did.”

In the other semi, Bertens earned a second win over eighth seed Petra Kvitova in a week to secure her place in the final after coming back from a set down to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The Belgian world number 17 made her third final of the year.

“I think today in the beginning I was struggling a little bit, with the serve, especially. Petra was returning really well and also serving good,” she said.

“In the second set I was getting better.

“I’m really happy that I’m in this final. I think that’s going to be a great match. Halep is playing some great tennis and she won of course last week.”