Cincinnati: Halep A Win Away From No. 1, Kyrgios Faces Dimitrov For First Masters Title
(August 19, 2017) Romania’s Simona Halep is a match away from the top spot, dismantling Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. The No. 2 player can jump over Karolina Pliskova with a win over Garbine Muguruza in the final.
“I played my best, I think, match on hard court so far,” Halep said. “I felt great on court. Now I feel better, actually.”
“I could not wish No. 1 in the world when I started playing professional, because I was too far. So when I got to Top 10, I said that I can be there. But still, when Serena was playing, I didn’t think too much about that. My first goal was a Grand Slam title, and it’s still the first goal.
“But now being very close, it’s maybe the most important thing in this period, the last three months, let’s say.
“I don’t know. I think it’s something special to get No. 1 in the world. Only 23 players got that, if I remember well.
“So it’s going to be special.”
Muguruza had a stellar performance over current top player and defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2. The Wimbledon champion said “I think I was very precise with my shots. I also played very well. I don’t know. I wanted just to be more aggressive, you know, trying to take my shots, don’t think a lot about her, because I know she played very aggressive, as well.
“I’m working hard on trying to face these aggressive opponents.”
“I don’t think I played my best tennis today,” Pliskova said. She played three matches in about 24 hours.
“I think she played very solid, not missing much and obviously serving well. Everything started, I think, in the first game of the first set.”
“I have just to respond fast and, like, strong with my legs, move well, and just to push her back, Halep said of her strategy playing against Muguruza.
“I’ll try everything tomorrow. I have just to go there and to play another final, which is great.”
Grigor Dimitrov has reached his first Masters final. The Bulgarian who is the No. 7 seed beat John Isner of the United States 7-6(4), 7-6(10).
“Today was, I think, one of those matches that I really had to just be patient. I think that that was the key. I knew I’m not going to have that many rallies against John. I knew that he’s going to serve big, bold serves.
“I just had to be very composed and use every opportunity that I had. I think in the end of the match, it was just a few points that made the biggest difference for me.
“I’m just happy obviously with the win, but I’m just happy with the way I kept myself together throughout the whole match. Just remained calm in those tough moments. I mean, I know it’s nerve-wracking from outside, but it’s even tougher when you’re in there and have to receive a serve that comes 141 miles an hour.
“So, yeah, I take a lot of positivity out of that match, and I’m just building up. This is how I like to see it. Tomorrow is the same thing for me. Just another match that I just want to come out and play the best way that I can. That’s all I can count on right now.”
Nick Kyrgios is also in his first Masters 100 final beating David Ferrer 7-6, 7-6. “He was a nightmare to play,” Kyrgios said of Ferrer. “I’m a tall guy and he’s not the tallest guys. He hits the ball pretty flat. You know, the whole time there is nothing shoulder height for me to hit. I’m always trying to hit underneath and trying to hit up and over it.
“It’s a tough matchup for me. I thought today I didn’t play my best tennis. I certainly didn’t serve great during the set. In the tiebreaks I served well, but I definitely didn’t bring my best tennis today. I’m just really proud that I managed to scrap out the win.”
There was a warm exchange at the net between the players. “I played him when I qualified for the US Open, and I think his coach met up with my coach,” Kyrgios. “They kind of wrote down on a big sheet of paper what I had to improve on.
“One of the things I know I’ll never forget on the sheet was “Learn to suffer.” That’s what David Ferrer said to Nick Kyrgios when I was eating KFC every day, pretty fat, not a great athlete. I was like, I don’t know, this guy is crazy.
“Yeah, that’s one thing I did remember from the big sheet. Yeah, he’s always been a really kind guy to me.”
“Nick, he improve a lot his serve,” said Ferrer. “He’s playing better with his backhand. You know, I played four years ago. He was a junior. Now he’s not any more a junior (smiling). And he serve better, you know. He has a very good percentage serving, good percentage. He has all the serve: wide, T, everything.
“Nick is young guy, also, but he’s improving. I think that he’s a nice guy. Well, he’s improving every year, and he’s the future. He will have a lot of chance to be No. 1 of the world and to win Grand Slams, but depends of his mentality.”
Asked about what drives him to keep playing after such a long career, he said: “Well, I have worked but not any more than the other tennis players.”
“You know, for to be a Top 10, you need talent, you need good legs, good timing.”
“So I am trying to improve my game and my best weapons.”
“Three months ago I thought that, you know, maybe after Roland Garros or maybe when I finish this year I will take a decision about my career.
“And now I am 30 of the world, playing good tennis. I hope will play next year again. I think so I will play. I am 100% sure that next year I will play. But in only three months, so I don’t know if we can play two more years or three more years.
“I am going step by step and enjoying this moment, enjoying this week. Is a new role for me. I am not a Top 10, but I am still have motivation. And for me, now, is the most important will play in center court with crowd and because I am playing tennis.”