WTA Rogers Cup: Elina Svitolina pulls double duty to end Halep's title defence

Less than six hours after fighting back to beat Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, Elina Svitolina blew past defending champion Simona Halep to reach the final of the Rogers Cup with a blowout 6-1, 6-1 victory. Both women had to complete their quarterfinal matches this morning, but it was Svitolina looking fresher, taking full advantage of a sloppy performance from the usually consistent Halep, and snapping the world number two’s finals streak in Canada in under an hour.

Svitolina’s dream start

Despite a quick victory this morning, Halep struggled right off the bat, committing error after error before double-faulting the break away in her first service game. Svitolina took full advantage of her opponent’s early struggles, quickly consolidating the break with a love hold, taking a 3-0 lead in the opening set after only seven minutes. While Halep struggled, Svitolina refused to miss, pushing her groundstrokes all over the court, clipping lines, and preventing the world number two from developing any kind of rhythm.

Svitolina follows through on a forehand in Toronto. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Svitolina follows through on a forehand in Toronto. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

In the fourth game, three times Halep committed backhand errors to give the Ukrainian break point. While she saved the first two, the Romanian sent a forehand long to hand Svitolina a double break lead. The fifth seed nearly completed the bagel with a third break, but sent her return long on break/set point before Halep finally held to get on the board. She was only delaying the inevitable as, despite double faulting on her second set point, Svitolina would hold to wrap up the opening set in 27 minutes.

Halep has no answer

A chat with Darren Cahill during the changeover between sets did nothing to help Halep rally, as she continued to struggle to find an answer to Svitolina’s consistent groundstroke play. Under immense pressure from the Ukrainian, Halep continued to commit error after error and found herself down 15-40 in the opening game of the second set. She would send a backhand into the net to immediately fall behind a break once again. The defending champion continued to unravel, sending a backhand long on break point in her next service game to hand Svitolina a double break. Back-to-back unforced errors in the fifth game gave Svitolina another break, a 5-0 lead, and a chance to serve out the match.

Simona Halep reaches for a backhand on Saturday in Toronto. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Simona Halep reaches for a backhand on Saturday in Toronto. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Four points from the final, the Ukrainian finally tightened up. She would double fault at 30-all to give Halep her first break point of the match. The Romanian sent her return wide, but after saving a match point, she would get a second chance and this time, it was Svitolina’s turn to commit a costly error, netting a forehand to give one of the breaks back. The comeback did not last long, as a poorly conceived drop shot at 30-all from Halep found the net to give the Ukrainian another match point and this time, the reigning champion ended her own title defence by sending a forehand into the net. The match took only 56 minutes.

By the numbers

Halep hit an uncharacteristic 34 unforced errors in the match, more than twice as many as Svitolina (16). She only managed nine winners, which was only one more than her opponent. The only poor statistic for Svitolina on the day was her second serve win percentage, 41 percent, although she countered it out by dominating her first serve, winning 84 percent of those points. Halep only won 43 percent of her first serve points and 35 percent of her second serves. The Ukrainian only faced two break points in the match, saving one, while converting six of her eleven break points.

Svitolina will meet Caroline Wozniacki in the final. The Ukrainian defeated the 2010 Rogers Cup champion earlier this year in the Dubai final.