The first two sets were extremely streaky - Ivanovic won five games in a row to take the 37-minute first set, 6-2, then Halep retaliated with four games in a row, eventually taking a 34-minute second set, 6-1. And in following with the pattern, it was Ivanovic who came out swinging in the early stages of the third, breaking twice en route to a 3-0 lead - seemingly on her way to victory and a spot in Sunday's final.
There was room for one last momentum swing, though, and Halep seized the opportunity. She broke at love to close to 1-3, dug her way out of 0-40 in the next game to hold for 2-3, then broke again for 3-all. By then she was firmly in control again and didn't lose another game to close the match out, 26 61 63.
The No.1-seeded Halep won 25 of the last 32 points of the match against the No.2-seeded Ivanovic.
Halep was interviewed by former WTA player Lubomira Bacheva on the court right after the victory.
"I played really well when she had break points to make it 4-1, and I'm really happy with the way I came back in the end," Halep said. "I'm a little bit injured in my leg but I'm very happy I was able to win today. Now I'm going to rest and recover and I hope to just come back and enjoy the final tomorrow."
Halep then asked if she could say a few words in Romanian to all of her fans in the stands - throughout the week she has had large support at the Armeets Arena from her neighboring home country.
The victory doesn't just put Halep into her sixth WTA final of the year - she is 5-0 in her other five WTA finals this year, and 5-3 overall in her career - but she is now projected to rise from No.14 to No.11 on the new rankings (though she can't go any higher than that here, even if she were to win the title).
Only two Romanians have ever been in the Top 10 before - Virginia Ruzici and Irina Spirlea. Ruzici made it as high as No.8 in the world in the '70s, while Spirlea peaked at No.7 in the world in the '90s.
Ivanovic was very complimentary towards Halep later on in her post-match press conference.
"I really felt I was playing well, but I felt the match was a bit up and down," Ivanovic said. "In the third set I created a lot of opportunities for myself, but my level dropped a little bit there and it was very hard to come back. I still felt I had a chance near the end, but she served very well in the last game.
"She's very confident right now - she's definitely improved and she's just been so consistent."