Tennis

Sloane Stephens to face top-seeded Simona Halep in Rogers Cup final

Simona Halep defeated Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals of the women's Rogers Cup on Saturday and will face American Sloane Stephens in the final.

American defeats reigning champ Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3

Sloane Stephens, of the United States, celebrates a point during her win against Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine, in semifinal play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Saturday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Simona Halep has had the upper hand against Sloane Stephens in recent meetings, but that will be set aside when they meet in the final of the women's Rogers Cup.

Halep is 6-2 against Stephens in her career, including a tough three-set win in this year's French Open final, and has won their last five meetings.

But Stephens, the reigning U.S. Open champion and third seed, has not dropped a set in four matches this week and looks poised to give the world's top-ranked player a battle when they meet on Sunday on centre court at IGA Stadium.

World No. 1 Simona Halep disposed of Ash Barty in straight sets to make the final for the 3rd time in 4 years, while Sloane Stephens eliminated reigning champion Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first Rogers Cup final. 2:01

"We played a good match," Stephens said of their showdown at Roland Garros. "I played very well for a set and a half.

"Hopefully I'll play very well for two sets. Just try to play as well as I can. I'm playing good tennis. She's playing good tennis. Obviously, to make a final of another tournament is incredible. It's three finals on the year for me. I'm really pleased with that. So, just going to compete really hard and give it my all. Whatever happens, happens."

Reigning champ ousted

Stephens ousted error-prone 2017 champ Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 in a semifinal on Saturday while Halep cruised past Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-1. Svitolina won the Rogers Cup last year when it was held in Toronto.

Halep's scheduling dispute with tournament organizers looked to have no effect on her play on the court.

The night before, Halep blasted the Women's Tennis Association for giving her difficult match times, saying she got the worst schedule in the 56-player event and that "this happens almost every tournament."

But playing on only 15 hours rest, Halep was in control from the outset against 15th-seeded Barty, eliminating the 22-year-old Australian in one hour 11 minutes.

"I was very sore when I woke up," said Halep. "During the match, it's not easy to run so much but, you know, I just tried to focus on what I have to play and, to make it a little bit easier, which I did in the end, was to finish it early."

She had nothing to add to her scheduling dispute, which saw her play four matches in three days after a night session was postponed due to rain.

"I think I talked enough about it," she said. "I hope in the future it's going to be better. I was upset. I am upset. But doesn't change my performance on court."

Montreal magic

Halep has reached the Rogers Cup final for the third time in four years. She won the last time it was held in Montreal in 2016.

The Romanian showed her class as she broke Barty's serve in the opening game with an impressive series of forehands down the lines. She broke again for a 4-1 lead, but the Australian then had her best moments, breaking back after a cross-court shot that drew a roar from the crowd.

Simona Halep of Romania celebrates a point over Australian Ashleigh Barty during her semifinal win at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Saturday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

But Halep did not lose a point on her serve the rest of the set, and broke twice more to open the second set.

"I think I played smart tennis today," she said. "I pushed her very back on her backhand, then I could just receive a shorter ball, an easier ball for me to open the court.

"Then I just went all the way on her forehand — short, cross, long, everything. I played some slices."

Early breaks help Stephens

Stephens broke serve in the opening game and took a 4-0 lead before Svitolina found the range on her groundstrokes. The Ukrainian even got a service break to close the gap to 5-3, but Stephens broke right back to take the set.

The American baseliner broke again for 3-1 in the second set and closed it out in 1:38.

"I've been playing well, consistent and that's great," said Stephens. "I played some really tough players. Really pleased with that. Obviously happy with my performance today."

The losing semifinalists each earned $126,450 US.

Barty made up for her singles loss with a semifinal win in doubles, teaming with Demi Schuurs to beat Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke 7-5, 6-3.

"I'm disappointed with my singles. In the same breath, I had a commitment to my partner, to Demi, to my team, to myself, to go out there and try my very best in the doubles pretty soon after, which is a good thing," said Barty.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.