Former world number one and seventh seed Simona Halep progressed to her first Wimbledon final, and her fifth Grand Slam final overall, on Thursday, downing eighth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets to set up a meeting against Serena Williams or Barbora Strycova in the final in two days time.
This was a rather unexpected semifinal clash, with Halep and Svitolina perhaps not in their best form this year, and with neither achieving their best results on this surface before. Despite her troubles on her grass previously, this was in fact Svitolina’s first ever Grand Slam semifinal, whilst Halep had not reached this stage at SW19 since 2014, where she fell to Eugenie Bouchard.
This first couple of games were incredibly tight, with Halep only 2-0 up after twenty minutes of play, but despite a little wobble early on in set one the Romanian was in control today, hitting the ball too cleanly for Svitolina and in total broke the Ukranian five times today, prevailing 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 13 minutes to reach her first Grand Slam final since winning the French Open last year.
Stylish Halep downs Svitolina to reach Wimbledon final
This was widely expected to be a battle at the first two games seemed to suggest that, taking twenty minutes and resulting in Halep getting an early break, having saved three break points on her serve in the opening game. Some wild errors saw the Romanian immediately concede her advantage, though the seventh seed was the more consistent of the two, and broke twice more to serve for the opener at 5-1. Svitolina saved five set points and held a break point, though Halep claimed a sixth set point to take the opener after 43 minutes.
Svitolina did not hold serve once in the first set, though started the set encouragingly by getting on the board straight away, and the second set followed a completely different pattern from the first, with three comfortable service holds for both players after just 18 minutes. Halep had not dropped a point on serve and was still playing with same intensity she had throughout, and some aggressive play proved effective as she achieved the decisive break to lead 4-3. The Romanian held comfortably to lead 5-3, and converted a second match point on the Ukranian’s serve to reach the final.
Though it was a disappointing result for Svitolina today, she can surely take a lot of encouragement from her best ever Grand Slam run, coming in a season where she has not been at her best. However, the focus today is obviously on Halep, who has grown into the tournament and looked in complete control today.
It was a clean performance from Halep, striking 26 winners to just 16 unforced errors, and is looking very comfortable on the grass, particularly against an opponent who she has lost to on four previous occasions. She is the first Romanian woman to reach the final at Wimbledon, and will be looking to be the first Romanian woman to win multiple Grand Slam singles titles on Saturday.