Halep downs Sharapova to set up Rome final rematch with Svitolina

Sunday, May 20, 2018

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ROME, Italy (AFP) — Simona Halep profited from a miserable day on serve for Maria Sharapova to reach the Italian Open final, with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 defeat of the five-time Grand Slam winner yesterday.

The Romanian world number one will bid for the title on Sunday against Elina Svitolina, in a repeat of last year's final won by the Ukrainian.

Svitolina booked her spot as she dominated Anett Kontaveit to win 6-4, 6-3 in just 74 minutes.

Halep fought back from a set down to win only her second match against Sharapova, who may have been feeling the effects of a three-hour victory the day before and was broken 10 times.

Halep has now defeated the Russian twice in a row, having lost their seven previous meetings.

Sharapova was burdened by nine double faults over a match lasting almost two and a half hours, taking her cumulative time on court to well over 12 hours this week.

Sharapova will still earn a seeding at Roland Garros, starting next Sunday, while Halep will remain number one ahead of Caroline Wozniacki.

Sharapova was playing her second semi-final of the season and should move back into the top 30 as a result.

Svitolina too strong

The first meeting between Svitolina and Kontaveit featured four breaks of serve in the first eight games, with the defending champion snatching the early lead after 39 minutes.

Svitolina moved to 3-1 in the second set, reached 5-3 with an ace, and served out victory a game later on her second match point.

Kontaveit, ranked 26th, had been on a roll against top 10 opponents, upsetting second-ranked Wozniacki and world number nine Venus Williams this week.

Svitolina will be bidding to win her eighth-successive final dating back to last season, as she bids for a third title this year after winning in Brisbane and Dubai.

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