LONDON, Great Britain - Former World No.1 Simona Halep is the first woman into the 2019 Wimbledon final after an emphatic win over rival Elina Svitolina, dispatching the No.8 seed, 6-1, 6-3.
"It's very special, this moment," Halep said, during her post-match press conference. "To be able to play Wimbledon final, it's pretty amazing. I will enjoy it for sure."
Seeded No.7, Halep was playing her first semifinal at the All England Club since 2014, while Svitolina was making her debut at this stage of any major tournament. The Romanian ultimately made good use of that experience to complete a 72-minute victory on Centre Court.
"I play some dropshots, I use the slice more, the serve is helping me," said Halep, when asked about her improvements on grass. "Now when the ball is coming to me, now I know what to do with it."
"Here this week I realized that I have a good chance on grass because I have strong legs, I can open the court," Halep added. "The court works for me if I play the right tactic."
Svitolina narrowly led her head-to-head with Halep coming into Thursday's clash, winning three of their last four matches - including decisive meetings at the 2017 Rogers Cup, BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and 2018 Internazionali BNL d'Italia - to move ahead 4-3.
"[Svitolina] was really strong," said Halep. "She didn't give up a point. The rallies were very long and very powerful, as well. It was really tough to stay there. But I knew that I was actually prepared against her to fight for every ball. I played many times against her, and I knew that she doesn't let the rhythm low.
"I had to be there, I had to be strong. Today, I think it was, again, one of the best matches on grass."
It was Halep, however, who had captured their most recent encounter at the Qatar Total Open, rallying from five points of defeat at 4-1 in the final set to snap her losing streak to the former World No.3.
She maintained that momentum early on, edging two marathon games to kick off their semifinal and caught fire from there, racing through the opening set with the loss of just one game, mixing her signature athleticism with raw firepower off both sides.
Svitolina was nearly out of the tournament in the second round to Margarita Gasparyan and showed off some of that fighting spirit to start the second set, mixing up the pace to keep things even through the first six games.
Halep wouldn't be denied, shifting gears once more to roll thorugh the final three games, breaking serve twice and losing just one point on serve to reach her fifth career Grand Slam final, her first first since winning her maiden major title at Roland Garros last spring.
"I can say that I have a better game in these days," said Halep, when asked about her development as a player since reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014. "I can play everywhere, against anyone. It's good that I have more plans. When I go on court and face an opponent, I know how to play against her.
"Also, I know how to change some things when [they don't] work very well. As a person, I'm trying just to be confident, to be positive. I'm working hard to do the best always when I step on the court."
In all, it was a glittering day for the former World No.1, striking 26 winners to 16 unforced errors, converting four of seven break point opportunities, and winning more than half of return points played over two sets.
Standing between the No.7 seed and a first Wimbledon crown will be 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who dispatched Barbora Strycova in the second semifinal. Williams has a 9-1 head-to-head lead against Halep, but the Romanian pushed Williams to three sets in their most recent meeting at the Australian Open earlier this year.
"I played many matches against [Serena], many of them were very close," said Halep. "I have learned that I have the chance. Now, if I face her, I will believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing, but now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It's just a big challenge for me."
"I think it's a great feeling to face Serena in a Grand Slam final," Halep continued. "If you are able to win, makes it sweeter. If you lose, then you have to look forward for the next one. I'm in a good position, honestly. I have no pressure on myself, just positive one. I have expectations for myself that I can do a great job on court Saturday."