Simona Halep and Kiki Bertens faceoff in the women's final of the Western & Southern Open with the Romanian looking to complete a sweep of both major warmup events before the US Open having won the Coupe Rogers last week.
Bertens, on the other hand, is in her first singles hard court final of her career and is looking to continue her rich run of form which has seen her hit new heights on both the hard courts and the grass this year.
Halep currently owns a 3-1 head-to-head over the Dutchwoman. The two first met in an ITF event in Belgium in 2010 where Halep picked up the first win over Bertens in straight sets.
Their second meeting came in 2012 with Bertens claiming her first victory there. Halep has won the last two meetings which have come more recently, both in the last two years. The world number one won their lone meeting in a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2016 and won their lone meeting at a Premier event, winning in Rome last year.
Halep's Road To The Final
It hasn't been the easiest of roads for the top seed so far. Her opening match came against Alja Tomljanovic where she fell a set down and was behind 0-3 in the third before rallying. This match, however, was finished a day after it started due to rain.
Halep then did double duty on Friday, defeating Ashleigh Barty and then Lesia Tsurenko. It wasn't a dominant performance against the Australian by any means, but she got the job done in the end. Against Tsurenko, Halep was down 1-4 in the opener, before reeling off 10 straight games to win by what looked a comfortable scoreline.
In yesterday's semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka, Halep controlled the ground game as per usual but sometimes just did not have the answer to the Belarusian's power. It was a strong effort from Sabalenka but her unforced error count was her downfall in this one.
Bertens' Road To The Final
The world number 17 missed out on a seed here in Cincinnati, but that did not stop her from amassing her best hard court tournament to date. She routed Coco Vandeweghe to start the tournament and then played a set against Caroline Wozniacki before the Dane retired.
Bertens then finished her round of 16 match against Anett Kontaveit on Friday and played Elina Svitolina later that day. The 26-year-old was down 1-4 in the first but rallied to win the set 6-4 and won in straights. In a rematch of their Montreal showdown, Bertens prevailed against Petra Kvitova in the semifinals on Saturday to book her place in the final.
Halep is an extremely well-rounded player that even with no standout shot, there is no major flaw in her shots. Her biggest knock is her second serve, which seems to be the case for a lot of players. Her backhand wing is better than her forehand, and she is one of the best movers in the world.
What Halep is best known for though is her return of serve. She has won nearly half of the return games she has played this year, making her one of the most feared returners in the WTA.
Bertens is a solid, consistent baseliner, much like Halep but possesses a little more punch than the Romanian does, being able to dictate points more often than not. The Dutchwoman is great at redirecting pace and has plenty of variation by throwing in slices and drop shots often.
When drawn up to the net, Bertens is quite comfortable due to her doubles prowess. Bertens was a finalist at the WTA Finals last year in Singapore with Johanna Larsson.
Despite being her first hard court final ever, it's unlikely Bertens will be overwhelmed by the moment, though some results may shock her still, like she said in her press conference after her semifinal win. This will be matchup of two baseliners battling it out from the back of the court. Both women come into the final in great form from their previous tournaments, so this will be a close call
Prediction: Halep in three sets