Benesova, Halep To Fight For Fès
Published April 30, 2010 12:00
FÈS, Morocco - World No.144 Simona Halep will contest her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final of any kind on Saturday, having won her maiden Tour semi at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Friday. The 18-year-old Romanian's opponent will be experienced Czech lefty Iveta Benesova, who was two points from defeat against Alizé Cornet before stealing her win, 63 46 75.
In the first semifinal it was Halep's opponent, Renata Voracova - also playing her first semi, at 26 - who made the better start, breaking serve to establish a 3-0 lead. But Halep, a former top-ranked junior and 2008 junior Roland Garros champion, won 10 of the next 12 games to pocket the opening set and build a 3-0 lead in the second.
With the win in sight, Halep waivered, allowing Voracova back into the match. Yet she kept her nose in front to serve for the match at 5-4, fending off a break point that would have seen the Czech draw level, and then closing it out, 75 64.
"I was nervous before the match, during the match… I'm a person with big emotions," confessed Halep, who has six ITF Circuit singles titles to her name. "I'm really happy that I won, and I just hope I can enjoy the final - not like today!"
The good news for Halep, perhaps, is that she already has a win over world No.67 Benesova under her belt.
As a qualifier playing her first Tour main draw at Marbella a few weeks ago, Halep beat the 27-year-old for her first Tour-level win before oustingcompatriot Sorana Cirstea to reach the quarters. There, she gave Flavia Pennetta a run for her money before falling in two tight sets.
Still, Fès represents just her third Tour main draw after four previous attempts at qualifying. For her part Benesova, who broke Cornet's serve when the Frenchwoman served for the match at 5-4 in the third, will be gunning for a second title from her seventh final - with the added incentive of revenge as well.
Benesova is also through to the doubles final, seeded No.1 with Anabel Medina Garrigues. Having beaten Cornet and Julie Coin in the semis, the Czech-Spanish duo takes on second-seeded Czechs Lucie Hradecka and Voracova, who eased past Vesna Manasieva and Klara Zakopalova.