A difficult week came to a close for Simona Halep, crowned with a worthy reward: her second consecutive Montreal title.
Difficult? Very. Visibly hampered by a left foot issue, having to play two matches in one day due to the weather, and upset with her scheduling, the world number one nevertheless showed what a fighter she is throughout the week. Her performance in Sunday’s final was simply an exclamation mark to all those statements.
The start of the match led to think that it would be another routine win for the Romanian, who quickly went up a double break. However, this was without counting on Sloane Stephens’ resilience. The American recovered both breaks to bring the first set back on serve. Halep broke again in the 11th game, but was unable to close out the set. In the tiebreak, Stephens went up a quick start, only to see her rival come back. In the end, the top seed escaped, 8-6.
The intensity of the first set could not last in the second, and the world number three quickly forced a decider, which ended up being as intense as the start of the match has been.
On an ace, after a battle of 2h41 minutes, Simona Halep fell (or collapsed) to her knees, having sealed a 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4 victory. A match which has seen no less than 15 breaks of serve.
Why so many? “Two players that return really well. I mean, other than that… Sometimes it happens, so kind of just how the game is”, analysed Stephens.
How important was the ace on championship point for Halep? “I really wanted it because I couldn’t finish the games before. At 5-4, I said that I have to serve bigger. During the match, it was a little bit softer. I had a little bit of pain in my abs. It was tough to hit constant. In the last game I just wanted to hit it, so I was lucky to hit an ace at the match point”, she said with a smile.
Halep comes back on an exhausting week
After the match, the best player in the world explained why she fell to the ground the moment the last point finished:
“I couldn’t believe that it’s over. This week, it’s been an amazing effort. Also I was really tired. I feel like these tournaments, and this level, you have to have actually one day off between the matches. It’s really tough. It’s brutal, the effort for me. This week it was really tough.
“It was raining. For everybody is a little bit tough. But I think it’s a good idea if this thing is going to be changed, just to have one day off between the matches. We will see in the future.
“Yeah, it was really tough.”
Simona Halep will now go to Cincinnati, where she finished runner-up in 2017.
Barty and Schuurs capture the doubles
In doubles, Ashleigh Barty, who lost to Halep in the singles semifinals, was in action alongside Demi Schuurs. The pair, eighth seeds of the tournament, were facing the number two seeds, Latisha Chan and Ekaterina Makarova.
Chan and Makarova took the first set 6-3, but Barty and Schuurs came back to force a match tiebreak.
In the end, the Aussie and the Dutch completed the comeback and, on their third match point, claimed the title with a 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 victory.
(Photos: Getty Images)