July 11, 2019 / 3:40 PM / a year ago

Halep rolls over Svitolina to reach first Wimbledon final

LONDON (Reuters) - In years to come when tennis fans flick through the hefty 500-page Wimbledon Compendium, they will note that in 2019 Simona Halep rolled over Ukrainian eighth seed Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals for the loss of just four games.

Romania's Simona Halep and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina shake hands after their semi-final match Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

What the 6-1 6-3 scoreline will not reveal, however, was that Halep took nine minutes to hold serve in the opening game of the contest played out in glorious sunshine on Centre Court or that Svitolina earned and squandered three break points.

Readers will also have no idea that the first two games alone lasted 20 exhilarating minutes, featuring 10 break points and that Svitolina could have been 2-0 up if she had capitalised on the numerous opportunities that fell her way.

Instead, it was Halep who grabbed the 2-0 lead and then ran away with a victory that put her one win from becoming the first Romanian to lift a Wimbledon singles trophy.

“It is an amazing feeling. I am very excited and nervous, It was one of the best moments of my life and I am trying to enjoy it,” said a beaming Halep after her 73-minute destruction set up a final against Serena Williams.

As both players stretched every sinew running from their fingertips to their toes while chasing down everything their opponent could throw at them in rallies that went on for over 20-shots, fans who had settled into their $200 seats thought they were about to witness a show-stopping battle that could become an all-time classic.

But just when Williams and Barbora Strycova, who were waiting in the wings ready to contest the second semi-final, might have been contemplating if they would need to change their dinner plans, Halep was broken to love in the very next game.

It was that sort of a strange match.

The contest that had looked close on paper, with eighth seed Svitolina holding a 4-3 advantage in head-to-head meetings with seventh seed Halep, ended up being thin on drama.


Before Svitolina had a chance to daydream about what it would be like to become the first Ukrainian woman to contest a Wimbledon singles final, she had lost the first set without holding her serve even once.

It might have taken Halep 20 minutes to win the first two games, but the rest of the set lasted only another 23 minutes to the disappointment of not only Svitolina but also her tennis-playing boyfriend Gael Monfils who sat frowning in the players’ box.

The daughter of a former wrestler, Svitolina simply struggled to grapple with Halep’s solid baseline tactics and the crowd also struggled to make much sense of what they were witnessing.

When Svitolina finally held serve for the first time on Thursday to open the second set, the ‘sympathy clap’ that usually follows such occasions was also missing. It appeared as if the 15,000 spectators had lost interest in a match that was heading for only one conclusion.

Halep stormed through her first three service games in the second set without dropping a point and within a blink of an eye, she held two match points at 5-3 up on Svitolina’s serve.

A forehand error on the first delayed her celebrations but she made no mistake on the second when the Ukrainian netted a backhand.

“It is not like the scoreline looks, each game went long and deep, but I am pleased with my tactics and I feel strong mentally and physically,” said Halep, who did not face a seed en route to the last four.

“I am trying to fight to the end because I really want to win this championships.”

($1 = 0.7978 pounds)

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Toby Davis

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