Simona Halep battled to a 7-6(6) 3-6 6-4 victory over Sloane Stephens to take home the Rogers Cup for the second time.
It is the second time the Romanian has denied the American a significant title in recent months after she also beat her in the French Open final in June.
That three-set triumph was extremely difficult for Halep to achieve and, in many ways, this was just as hard because Stephens matched her for most of the encounter.
To begin with, it did not look that way as the World No.1 produced the kind of tennis that enabled her to thrash Caroline Garcia and Ashleigh Barty to race into a 4-1 lead.
However, the American dug in and fought hard to get one of the breaks back in game six. She then saved two break points in game seven before powering to another break to level the score. It was a superb comeback.
Remarkably, Halep and Stephens exchanged another break apiece as the set progressed to an increasingly-inevitable tie-break.
There was plenty more drama in the breaker as both players dominated with their returns, and the Romanian eventually prevailed 8-6 to go a set up.
Stephens hits back to level
Halep looked tired in the second set after her heroics in the opener, and Stephens took full advantage to storm back into the match with two early breaks.
Although the World No.1 had two break points in game six, she never looked likely to get back into the set and the American eventually broke her again in game nine to seal it.
Halep regains control in the decider
Both players needed a little break after two gruelling sets and they got one while Halep received some running repairs on her weary feet during a medical time-out.
That attention seemed to work wonders for the Romanian as she came out firing in the decider and won the first two games in the blink of an eye.
It would have been surprising if the rest of the set was that simple. And, sure enough, Stephens fought back to level the score at 2-2.
However, Halep still looked to be the stronger player, and she seized full control of the match by breaking the World No.3 twice to move 5-2 ahead.
Incredibly, Stephens saved three match points and almost clawed her way back into the contest by winning the next two games. But it was not to be for the American as the World No.1 successfully served for the title at 5-4.
Delighted Halep reflects on her ‘amazing week’
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to talk again at this ceremony as a winner – two times in a row here in Montreal,” Halep said in her winner’s speech.
“It’s been an amazing week and I feel like I reached my best level of tennis. Even though I had a long break before this tournament and I felt dead after the first day (when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(9) 4-6 7-5 in a rain-interrupted match that lasted over three hours).”
The Romanian continued, “I just didn’t give up. I fought till the end and finally became the winner of this beautiful tournament with this beautiful crowd.”
“Thanks Sloane. You make me play better and better when we play together, which is a good thing. Always it’s a big match between us and hopefully we can play many more finals together.”
Halep, who is now nearly 2000 points clear of Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings, finished off her great week in Montreal by thanking her team, the tournament and the fans for their support.
Coco Gauff reaches Rome Semi-Finals after Barty retires
Coco Gauff is into her first WTA1000 semi-final after Ash Barty retired during their match.
The 17 year old American was down a set and 2-1 when the world number one decided to call it.
Coco Gauff is into the semi finals of the BNL D’Italia open after her opponent the world number one and Aussie Ash Barty decided to pull out after leading 6-4, 2-1 with a right arm injury.
Under wet and rainy conditions the match began and you had a sense the rain was going to play a big factor in this one and it was the American who had three early chances to break in the first game of the match but the Aussie saved all three and held her opening service game.
The very next game it was Barty turn to apply pressure on the Gauff serve but the American did a good job saving the breakpoint and holding her serve before eventually breaking the Aussie serve the very next game.
The world number one responded the very next game breaking right back and that’s when the rain started to pour and the match was suspended.
Two hours later play resumed and literally after playing one game there was another slight delay for a down pour and a couple of minutes later play resumed one more time.
It stayed on serve until 5-4 with the American serving to stay in the set and it was the world number one putting more pressure and after saving four set points the Aussie would break with a stunning cross court forehand winner to take the first set.
The second set stayed on serve until 2-1 when Barty called for the trainer and after a brief discussion to everyone surprise decided to retire with a right arm injury.
Gauff now awaits the winner of the quaterfinal match between Elina Svitolina and Iga Swiatek.
Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome
Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.
Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.
The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.
Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.
A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.
Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.
This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.
A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.
In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.
After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.
Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.
Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.
Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.
After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.
Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.
Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.
Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.
In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.
The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.
Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska
Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.
Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.
The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.
If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.
It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.
In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.
On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.
That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.
A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.
However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.
Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.
She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.
But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.
In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.
Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.
The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.
As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.
However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.
For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.
As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.
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