Simona Halep defeats Maria Sharapova to advance to the Italian Open final

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Top-ranked Simona Halep won her semifinal against Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, setting up a repeat of 2017 Italian Open final against Elina Svitolina.

Halep dragged behind after an error-strewn first set in which there were nine breaks of serve in total, but she bounced back to seal victory in two and a half hours.

“[My] serve didn’t work that well today, but also, she’s a good returner so it’s always tough. I was confident to return her serve, and I think I did a great job today, all match,” Halep assessed.

“I just changed a little bit the game. I tried to be aggressive the whole match, even if sometimes I went too far. I think I played the best match on clay, and I’m really happy that — even if she played her best, in my opinion today — I won the match.”

Earlier, world number four Svitolina overcame Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-3.

In a dramatic match, Halep managed to govern her temper, also resorting to Australian coach Darren Cahill to calm her down and get good advice, admitting at the end of the game that it was difficult to beat Sharapova: ”It is always hard to play against her (…) but I was confident that I have enough strength to win the match. I did not think much that I lost the first set, I stayed focused on what I had to do,” Halep stated.

“He told me actually after the match that I talked a lot. I don’t do very often that, but I just wanted to tell him what I feel, so I was really honest,” she said. “I was a little bit afraid because I serve pretty well. I can serve pretty well, but when I’m not confident and when I’m not relaxed, it can be a little bit weaker.

“That happened in the first set, but then, I just relaxed myself and I said that, ‘Always, my serve will help me…I have just to be confident.’ And it worked much better, quotes Halep as saying.”

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