Western and Southern Open Cincinnati 2017 Final Preview: Garbine Muguruza vs Simona Halep

The final match in the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati has been decided, and it should be an exciting prospect – Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep will battle it out for their first Cincinnati title.

[4] Garbine Muguruza (No.4) 

Route to this stage

R1: BYE

R2: d. Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-2 6-0

R3: d. [16] Madison Keys, 6-4 3-6 7-6(3)

QF: d. [8] Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-2 5-7 7-5

SF: d. [1] Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-2

Now a two-time Grand Slam champion, Garbine Muguruza is seemingly handling the pressure much better and is finding week-to-week consistency during her tournaments. Muguruza is historically known for raising her level in Slams and not performing well in regular WTA events, but this seems to be changing, having reached the quarterfinals or better in her last four events, including a final in Cincinnati this week. The Spaniard saved three match points against Stanford champion Madison Keys in the third round before coming through another three-setter against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Arguably the most impressive performance of Muguruza’s was her fourth World No.1 win against Karolina Pliskova. Understandably, Pliskova was tired from having played two matches the previous day but it was an impressive display of her brand of tennis as she outplayed and outclassed the Czech.

[2] Simona Halep (No.2)

Route to this stage

R1: BYE

R2: d. Taylor Townsend, 6-4 6-1

R3: d. [15] Anastasija Sevastova, 6-4 6-3

QF: d. [7] Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-6(1)

SF: d. [WC] Sloane Stephens, 6-2 6-1

This will be the fourth time Simona Halep has a chance to regain No.1 in a tournament, and the third time Halep is one win away from the World No.1 ranking. Can she finally get it this time in Cincinnati? To be honest, Halep is definitely deserving of this status. The Romanian has been one of the most consistent players in the last four years and has made three finals this season already. In Cincinnati this week, Halep has had a smooth road so far, not dropping a set in her four matches. Maybe what was more impressive was that Halep wasn’t playing her best tennis throughout the whole tournament but has managed to grit out the wins. However, her match against Sloane Stephens in the semifinals was definitely her best effort this week so far and she seems relaxed during the press conference about the final ahead. Can she bring her good tennis to the final and finally claim the No.1 status?

Head to head: The pair have not met in more than two years – Halep won their previous encounter in Stuttgart but it is Muguruza who leads the HTH 2-1.

Stat: Halep is definitely the more consistent player of the two but both of them has made six semifinals this year. Muguruza is into her first WTA final since 2015 in Beijing.

Thoughts: Excited for this one! Muguruza and Halep are in the zone right now and both have a lot of the line – especially Halep. As their last meeting was in 2015, it’s tough to call but I’m going to go with the Romanian. I feel that it’s time for Simona to reach the summit of the rankings – she’s more relaxed now (read WTA website) and is not so uptight on getting it now. The conditions in Ohio are also perfect for Halep and she should be able to redirect and chase down the balls of Muguruza’s groundstrokes easier with the slightly slower court. She is also one of the best with passing shots, so Garbine has to play a perfect point to be able to finish things off at the net. That’s going to be a tough with a big hitter, thus I’m going for Halep and her first Cincinnati title.

Please follow my Cincinnati predictions here and my Twitter account here 🙂 New Haven predictions will come out soon. Thank you for reading!

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