first_imgMASON, OH – AUGUST 19: Simona Halep of Romania returns a shot to Sloane Stephens during Day 8 of the Western and Southern Open at the Linder Family Tennis Center on August 19, 2017 in Mason, Ohio. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFPMASON, Ohio — Simona Halep moved within a victory of the No. 1 ranking.The second-ranked Halep needed just 54 minutes to cruise past Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday in the Western & Southern Open semifinals, and can displace Karolina Pliskova as the top of the ranking with a victory over Garbine Muguruza on Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. The fourth-ranked Muguruza reached her first W&S final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over defending champion Pliskova.The men’s final will feature two first-timers. Grigor Dimitrov outlasted John Isner 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10) in the first men’s semifinal. Nick Kyrgios beat David Ferrer 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingHalep, seeking her first No. 1 ranking, has yet to drop a set in the tournament and appears to be peaking at just the right time.“I think I played my best match on hardcourt so far,” said Halep, who can become the first Romanian woman to be ranked No. 1. “It felt great. I moved very well today. From the first point, I felt like I was going to play good tennis.” Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LATEST STORIES Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ Favorites to win, PH triathletes reminded not to be complacent Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side The final Sunday will be the first on American soil for Muguruza, who lost to Pliskova in last year’s W&S semifinals after losing to Serena Williams in the 2015 finals. The Spaniard had lost six straight matches against Pliskova since winning their first in 2013.“I was very precise with my shots,” said Muguruza, who is 2-1 in her career against Halep, though the two haven’t played since 2015. “I wanted to be more aggressive and take my shots. I felt pretty good out there – under control. Everything went my way.”Muguruza won when Pliskova sailed a forehand long on the fifth match point. Pliskova, who played part of one match and all of another Friday after rain forced postponements Thursday, had 28 unforced errors to Muguruza’s 13.Muguruza was coming off playing the tournament’s longest match, a 2-hour, 45-minute three-set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Friday. That followed a 2-hour, 18-minute win over Madison Keys on Thursday, when she fought off three match points.“I don’t think I played my best tennis today,” Pliskova said. “I think the energy was pretty low from my side. Obviously, a tough schedule for me the last two days – three matches in about not even 24 hours.ADVERTISEMENT Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR “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.”Muguruza took charge early, breaking Pliskova in the first and last games of the first set.She gained a second-set edge with a backhand winner on break point for a 4-2 lead before closing it out in 1 hour, 19 minutes.Stephens, playing her fourth tournament since returning from January foot surgery, also was playing a third match in a span of 24 hours.“That’s never easy,” she said. “I’m going to go with that. I didn’t play that badly. She was a little fresher. It was just not a great day.”The 11th-ranked Dimitrov, who lost in the last year’s semifinal to eventual champion Marin Cilic, had just one double fault and finished with nine unforced errors to No. 19 Isner’s 28 in the 2-hour, 3-minute match. The Bulgarian will play the winner of the semifinal between Nick Kyrgios, who knocked out second-ranked Rafael Nadal in straight sets in a Friday quarterfinal, and David Ferrer.“Today was, I think, one of those matches that I really had to just be patient,” Dimitrov said. “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 mph.”Dimitrov’s composure was the key, according to Isner.“The difference was he was a lot more decisive at the big moments,” Isner said. “He was a little calmer as well — a little more free-flowing in big moments. I thought he played a high-level match. He certainly is in good form. I played well enough to beat a lot of players today — just not him.”Kyrgios and Ferrer displayed remarkably efficient serving in their nightcap. They combined for six break points, converting none. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo View commentslast_img

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