Romanian tennis player Simona Halep was defeated on Thursday evening by world’s currently best ranked player Serena Williams in the semi-finals of the women’s singles event of the 5,381,235-dollar WTA Miami Open 2015 tournament.
Halep, number 3 seed, caved in after two hours and eight minutes of balanced play that also witnessed some drama.
Before the semi-finals, Halep had been defeated only once, in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Her hot streak started in the Shenzhen Open and comprised 15 consecutive wins that brought her the titles in the Dubai Open and the Indian Wells Masters, as well as Shenzhen.
Halep won 220,230 US dollars and 390 WTA points for having played the Miami Open semi-finals.
Halep and Williams, 33, were scheduled to face off in the semi-finals at Indian Wells, but Williams withdrew because of a knee injury.
Williams has won four of their five matchups, though Halep’s win – 6-0, 6-2 during the round robin portion of last year’s BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore – equalled the worst loss of Williams’ career in regard to total games won. The two met again in the finals of that tournament and Williams won 6-3, 6-0.
Williams started off strongly, with precise strikes, while Halep barely resisted the first games. Williams, the winner of the past two Miami Open tournaments led 1-0 and 2-1, then managed a break, 3-1, sprinted to 4-1, closing the set 6-2 after 32 minutes.
The second set was more balanced, with Halep playing at her real level and Williams being accurate and constant like never before, with the two players neck and neck to 4-4, when Halep managed a saving break, winning the set 6-4 in 43 minutes.
In the decisive set, Serena had an excellent start, managed the break at 1-0, broke away at 3-0, led 4-1 and 5-2, but Halep did not give up fighting. She reduced the gap while serving (3-5), won a break (4-5), and then tied 5-5. Williams won back serving and capitalised on the delicate moment, breaking Halep and winning the set 7-5.
Williams had a net play advantage of 38-10 winning strikes. But she also had more unforced errors – 45 to Halep’s 24. Halep had a higher success rate of first service (69 per cent to 45 per cent), but Williams had more first services won (80 per cet to 60 per cent) and also more second services won (60 per cent to 51 per cent). Break points saved from service was equal, at 33 per cent, and so were break points won from return, at 66 per cent.
Halep would have shot to number 2 spot in the WTA ranking or professional female players to be issued on Monday, had she made it to the final. Next, Williams will face Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, seeded twelfth. Suarez Navarro has defeated four seeded players en route to the final, including Venus Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Andrea Petkovic, Aperpres informs.