Halep conquers Bertens to book final spot against Svitolina

Simona Halep remained unbeatable on Saturday as she swept past Kiki Bertens 75 61 to secure a place in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the first time. The 25-year-old will face Elina Svitolina, who she defeated in their only previous meeting in Sofia in 2013, in Sunday’s final.

The Romanian, who has now won 10 matches in a row, looked sharp from the outset and needed only 77 minutes to wrap up a straight sets victory in cold and damp conditions at the Foro Italico.

Halep broke in the opening game of the match only to be pegged back to 2-2 after Bertens’ heavy hitting put her back in touch. The Dutchwoman’s aggressive play was her downfall in the very next game however and some loose errors cost her another break.

Bertens didn’t give up, producing some outstanding defensive play and surviving a nine-minute service service game, which included saving five set points, at 5-3. A little while later Bertens drew level at 5-5 before Halep broke again and then enjoyed a comfortable hold to take the first set.

The No. 6 seed secured a double break to start the second set and then allowed Bertens no chance to get back into the match. Playing almost flawless tennis, Halep was calm and relaxed and her confidence was evident. She recorded just one unforced error in the second set and a total of nine in the match as she advanced to her second straight final.

“I expect a tough one. It’s final, come on. It will be very difficult. You know, I believe that I have my chance even if they are confident, very confident now. I am confident, too, so I have my chance,” said Halep. “For sure, I will not give up. I will go through the match and I will fight for every ball.”

Halep will face No. 8 seed Elina Svitolina in the final. The Ukrainian was leading Garbine Muguruza 4-1 in her semifinal when the Spaniard retired due to a neck injury. Svitolina is looking for her fourth title of the season having already lifted the trophies in Taipei City, Dubai and Istanbul.

“It’s a final, so of course I’m already very proud of my performance here. I played very, very good here and very, like, focused,” said Svitolina, who will return to the top 10 in the rankings on Monday.

“So I will try to do the same thing and hopefully, yeah, it will be a good day. Of course, she won Madrid and she has confidence. But I’m also playing good this year, and I think it’s gonna be a good match.”