ROME, Italy – Madrid champion Simona Halep is back into a final for the second week in a row after putting together a dominating performance to see off Kiki Bertens in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinals.
Halep played near perfect tennis to wrap up the victory 7-5, 6-1, hitting only nine unforced errors throughout the match – with just one in the final set.
She awaits the winner between reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza and Elina Svitolina, who leads the tour in titles and match-wins in 2017.
“Sometimes a win over a top player gives you confidence,” Halep reflected after the match. “Sometimes the work you do before the tournaments gives you confidence that you are ready to go.
“Sometimes just winning some matches, tough ones, even if in three sets, those are the most important matches.
“Sometimes you just feel good and you feel that let's play. I have this feeling now. I think gives me power to go on court and to believe that I can win.”
After her run to the Madrid title last week, Halep ominously announced that finally felt she was playing with confidence – and it showed as she rocketed ahead to win the first six points in a row off Bertens and start with a break.
Her game was firing despite the heavy, damp conditions in Rome, and she kept Bertens moving from side to side, occasionally foraying into the court to cut off points at the net.
But Bertens, a semifinalist at the French Open last year, refused to fade away even as Halep marched closer to the set.
The Dutchwoman took all her chances and chased down each of Halep’s tricky dropshots to deny the Romanian five set points on her own serve before emphatically break Halep as she tried to serve it out, leveling the match at 5-5.
Under pressure and a few points away from forcing a tiebreaker, Bertens’ unforced error count began to climb at the worst time, and she was broken straight back before Halep calmly served it out at the second time of asking.
With a set in her pocket, the Romanian’s game flowed more freely and her level raised significantly. She could barely put a ball wrong, making just one unforced error in the set to pile the pressure firmly on Bertens. Halep broke the Dutchwoman twice to start off with a 4-0 lead, and a final break took her through to the Rome final as a Bertens forehand drifted long.