Halep to meet Bertens for Cincinnati title

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

She'll play unseeded Kiki Bertens, who defeated Annett Knotaveit 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

The 20-year-old Sabalenka had taken down three top 20 players on her way to the semi-finals but struggled to keep pace with Halep, who collected her 450th career win.

Halep ran out of energy in a third-set collapse.

Despite falling behind 1-4, Halep continued to fight for the set, and clawed her way back on serve by breaking Bertens as the Dutch player served at 4-2.

Sabalenka had an easy volley at the net on the next point but with the court wide open she sent the ball wide.

She ended a nine-match winning streak for Halep, who beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the final at Montreal last week.

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Halep will face unseeded Lesia Tsurenko in a quarterfinal match after rain delayed matches on Thursday.

Romania's Halep, 26, has now lost three finals in Cincinnati have previously missed out in 2015 and 2017.

The Rogers Cup victor will now face Aryna Sabalenka, who - after seeing off top 10 players Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Garcia earlier in the week - claimed another big win by overcoming number 13 seed Madison Keys.

"I can not find the words for this moment", said Bertens, who becomes the first Dutch victor at a singles WTA/ATP hardcourt tournament since 2006.

Bertens, world number 17, lost the last five games of the first set but took the second in which there were seven breaks of serve.

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