SHENZHEN, China - World No.1 Simona Halep strolled into her second career final at the Shenzhen Open on Friday afternoon by defeating compatriot and No.4 seed Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.
Halep kept her perfect record against her doubles partner this week in tact with the victory, running her head-to-head against the Romanian No.3 to 6-0, while also winning her 11th straight match against compatriots.
The 26-year-old hasn't lost to a countrywoman in over seven years, with her last defeat coming at the hands of Sorana Cirstea in 2010.
"It was a tough match, I know that she's a very strong player and in the second set, you could see that she was improving her game. I was strong enough to hit the ball [well] in the end...and I'm really proud with my victory today. It was a tough one," Halep said.
"I'm again in the final here in Shenzhen, I'm really happy to play the final again here. I always enjoy playing here and it's going to be a big challenge tomorrow. I'm ready to play and we'll see what's going to happen.
Redirecting Begu's blistering groundstrokes with aplomb, Halep's precise counterpunching earned her four breaks of the No.4 seed's serve, as she won both the last five games of the opener, and four of the last five in the match.
The two players both struck 15 winners in the match, but Begu racked up eight more unforced errors than Halep in the 89-minute match, accumulating 23 over the course of 17 games.
In the final, Halep will face the winner defending champion Katerina Siniakova, who edged former former World No.1 Maria Sharapova in three sets in the second semifinal.
The Czech defeated Halep en route to winning her first career title in Shenzhen last season.
"It's going to be great, but I know tomorrow is going to be a tough match," the World No.1 said. "I played last year against her, and maybe I will take my revenge - you never know. I'll be ready to play and it will be great if I can win it."
In a cosmic twist, Halep and Siniakova will play each other in both the singles and doubles finals on Saturday.
Halep made only the second doubles finals of her career as she and Begu overcame the Russian and German pair of Anna Blinkova and Nicola Geuer to prevail 6-2, 7-6(4), 10-6 in a super tiebreak, while Siniakova and compatriot Barbora Krejcikova as the Czech defeated Lesley Kerkhove and Lidziya Marozava, 7-5, 3-6, 10-4.
“I'm a little bit sad for losing in the singles but I wish [Simona] all the best,” Begu said. "I have to give credit to Simona for trying so hard. It was a tough match and I’m very happy that we today won in the doubles."