Halep holds off Muguruza in Rome semi-final thriller

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Simona Halep survives a tough three-setter against Garbine Muguruza to reach the Rome final on Sunday. Halep will battle either Karolina Pliskova or Marketa Vondrousova for the title.
  • Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-final

  • Halep d. Muguruza 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

  • Key info: There were 16 service breaks — nine for Halep and seven for Muguruza
  • You will also learn: This is not the first time Halep has been one win away from the Rome title
  • Why you should read this story: This was perhaps her toughest test in her current 13-match winning streak

Seeking her first title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Simona Halep scraped past Garbine Muguruza for a three-set victory during semi-final action on Sunday afternoon. Halep broke Muguruza’s serve a whopping nine times to prevail in two hours and 17 minutes, doing so in front of no more than 1,000 fans in attendance.

Rome’s No 1 seed awaits either Karolina Pliskova or Marketa Vondrousaova in Monday’s championship match. It will mark Halep’s third appearance in the final of this event, having previously finished runner-up in 2017 and 2018 (both times to Elina Svitolina).

A roller-coaster ride

Although Halep led by at least one break in every set, it was never easy for the 28-year-old. She raced to a 5-1 lead in the opening frame of play, watched Muguruza take the next two games, and then finished it off in appropriate fashion with her third break of the day at 5-3. Muguruza was seemingly on her way to a quick defeat when she dropped serve again to trail 3-1 in the second, but the 17th-ranked Spaniard had other ideas. She won all of Halep’s next three service games, so it did not even matter that she donated her own serve again at 2-3. A rare and surprising love hold for Muguruza at 5-4 set the stage for another see-saw affair in the third set.

Halep promptly surged to the same 5-1 advantage she had enjoyed in the first set. However, this time it was even more difficult to close it out. Muguruza again stormed back, recovering both of the breaks for 4-5. Of course, this contest ended in the only way it could: with a break. Halep earned a ninth and final scalp of her opponent’s serve to take the decider 6-4.

Halep hot streak

Halep has now won 13 matches in a row, having captured the Dubai title prior to the COVID-19 pandemic before lifting the Prague trophy following tennis’ five-month hiatus. She is now 3-0 lifetime against Muguruza on clay and this gained her at least some measure of revenge for a 2020 Australian Open semi-final loss to the 26-year-old.

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