Cincinnati Final: (1) Serena Williams vs (3) Simona Halep
We are left with a blockbuster final at the 2015 Western & Southern Open. The current world number 1 and defending champion Serena Williams will take on the soon to be world number 2 Simona Halep. It could be argued that Simona is currently Serena’s biggest threat on the tour, it will be interesting to see how far the Romanian can push Serena on Sunday.
Serena Williams cruised through her opening two matches in Cincinnati, picking up routine straight set victories over Tsvetana Pironkova and Karin Knapp. However the American was far less convincing in her victory over Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals, making a sluggish start before eventually coming back to win from a set and a break down. Serena made another slow start in her semi-final victory over Elina Svitolina, the American eventually fought her way to a 6-4 6-3 victory. Serena will be looking for a much more consistent performance in the final.
Simona Halep has defied the critics this week to reach her fifth final of the year. The Romanian was forced to retire in the final of the Rogers Cup last week and arrived in Cincinnati with question marks surrounding her fitness. The Romanian has shown incredible resistance this week, picking up hard fought victories over Kristina Mladenovic, Andrea Petkovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Simona secured the number 2 ranking and moved into the final with a commanding 6-1 6-2 thumping of Jelena Jankovic on Saturday night. Simona was far too powerful and disciplined for a hapless Jankovic.
Serena and Simona have built up an exciting rivalry over the past year. Simona famously smashed Serena 6-0 6-2 in Singapore last year, the Romanian’s first and only victory over Williams. Since then Serena has won their only two encounters, including an extremely hard fought 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory in Miami earlier this year. Serena holds an overall 5-1 head to head advantage over Simona.
Serena will be wary of the threats Simona possess and will still be looking to punish Simona for embarrassing her in Singapore last year. In Serena’s last match before the U.S Open I expect the American to be very fired up and determined to win yet another title. Serena is almost unbeatable in finals and should too strong for a tiring Halep.