Simona Halep Reaches Cincinnati Final And Keeps Quest For Number One Alive - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Reaches Cincinnati Final And Keeps Quest For Number One Alive



Simona Halep (

By Todd Muffie

CINCINNATI – The women’s second semifinal at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati was one-way traffic. The gap between the No. 2-ranked Simona Halep of Romania and Sloane Stephens of the United States proved too big for the American, who was never allowed to step foot into the match. Halep was solid and consistent throughout the entire match, while Stephens appeared slow and incapable of turning the local crowd in her favor.

The match started at 4:30 in the afternoon right after the men’s first semifinal between John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov electrified a jam-packed center court and kept the spectators at the edge of their seats.

After sitting in the heat and under an excruciating sun for almost two hours to support Big John, most of the spectators left center court to enjoy a well-deserved break. Despite the presence of another American player, the semifinal between Halep and Stephens started while most of the stands were still empty in a very uninspired atmosphere. The group of loud Romanian supporters was instead very vocal and vibrant, cheering for their national hero at every opportunity.

Stephens returned to the WTA Tour only a couple of months ago after undergoing foot surgery, and last week she enjoyed remarkable success at the Canadian Open reaching one of the biggest semifinals of her career. Despite another great run at this week’s Western and Southern Open, Stephens proved to be no competition for Halep, whose brilliant ability to turn defense into offense allowed her to close out the match with the dominant score of 6-2, 6-1 in only 54 minutes.

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By reaching the Cincinnati final, Simona is once again one win away from becoming the No. 1 player in the WTA rankings. It is the third time in the past three months that the Romanian has the opportunity to sit on top of the world. She miserably failed in her previous two attempts, losing two big matches that on paper Simona played as the favorite. Halep lead 6-4, 3-0 in the French Open final against the young rising star Jelena Ostapenko, but then collapsed under the Latvian’s heavy groundstrokes in a shocking three-set defeat. A month later at Wimbledon, for the second time Simona was one win away from the No. 1 spot when she faced Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals: Halep was two points away from winning the match but once again the nerves had the best of the Romanian, allowing Konta to advance to the semifinals.

In the Cincinnati final, Halep will face the challenge from the new Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who upset the current world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in Saturday’s first semifinal. When the new WTA rankings come out on Monday morning, Pliskova will have a total of 6390 points. If Halep wins the final in Cincinnati, she will be the new world No. 1 with 6700 points. If the Romanian instead loses the final, she will remain at No. 2 with 6385 points, which means that a bizarre five-point gap could separate the two best female players in the world.

Will it be “third time’s a charm” for Simona?

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon



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It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.


The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.


Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’



After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister



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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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