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Halep feels 'mentally stronger' to take on Williams in final

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Published in Tennis
Thursday, 11 July 2019 09:04

Simona Halep says she feels "mentally stronger" for the "big challenge" of facing Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

Halep beat Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 to reach her maiden final at the All England Club, where she will meet seven-time champion Serena Williams.

The Romanian has won just one of her 10 meetings with American Williams, coming at the WTA Finals in 2014.

"I will believe that I have my chance to win against her," said Halep, 27.

"Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing.

"But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It's just a big challenge for me."

Seventh seed Halep - whose previous best finish at Wimbledon was reaching the 2014 semi-finals - wrapped up victory over Ukrainian eighth seed Svitolina in one hour 13 minutes.

"It is one of the best moments of my life," she told the BBC.

"I'm really excited but also nervous. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

"It was not as easy as the score shows. I fought really hard, [Svitolina] is an amazing player and it's always tough to play against her."

On what has changed since 2014, she said: "I have more experience, I am positive on court and I am not giving up anymore. I have learnt many things in five years."

Halep capitalises on gripping start

Halep and Svitolina, 24, had not met at a Grand Slam since the 2017 French Open but if the first game of their maiden grass meeting was anything to go by, it was going to be a lengthy affair.

Lasting almost 10 minutes, it featured two 23-shot rallies before Svitolina - who had held three break points - conceded the game off her backhand.

Halep converted her third break point to go 2-0 up with the following two games also going against the server.

At 4-1 down, Svitolina lost her serve once more as Halep - who hit 16 winners but also 12 unforced errors in the opener - went on to serve out the set with a forehand down the line on her sixth set point.

If she hadn't already, Halep demonstrated her desire to win in the second set, holding her first three service games to love before going a break up at 4-3.

And she was to finish on a break too, sealing match point on the second time of asking after Svitolina slammed a backhand into the net.

"I didn't take my chances which was disappointing. You want to play well, you want to make a statement that you are there for the fight," said Svitolina.

"Simona played unbelievably today. The score was a little bit of me making poor decisions and her playing unbelievable [tennis]."

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