Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep to renew rivalry in Cincinnati
MASON, Ohio -- No. 2 Simona Halep and No. 6 Maria Sharapova will take their clay court rivalry to the hard court on Friday when the two face off in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open. Sharapova has been the roadblock to even greater success this year for Halep, who has yet to beat the Russian in four tries. Their quarterfinal will be a rematch of the the French Open final, which Sharapova won after three hours, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4, to win her second French Open title. The two also contested the final of the Madrid Open, which Sharapova won 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Highlights from that final below:
"Our last few matches this year have been on clay courts, so this will be a pretty new encounter," Sharapova said. "Again, we know each other's game very well because we played quite recently in the middle of the season. She's had one of her best seasons in her career. Obviously being No. 2 in the world is a really big achievement. It will be a tough match."
"I want to play against her because I want to see if on hard [court] she will beat me again," Halep said after her 6-4, 7-5 win over Lucie Safarova. She's counting on her experience of playing Sharapova recently to make the difference this time. "I just want to try my game, to play very aggressive, to open the angles like always, and to stay very focused, because she's taking a lot of time between points. So in French Open that disturbed me, but now I have experience and it will be fine."
Halep was referring to the amount of time Sharapova takes between her service points, which can edge on 20 to 30 seconds. Sharapova's habit, which remains unchanged regardless of her opponent, simply gave Halep too much time to think about the occasion. "Yeah, a little bit nervous between points because it was long time between the points. It's not easy to stay focused."
The other high-profile WTA quarterfinal will be between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic. Williams advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over 13th seed Flavia Pennetta, while Jankovic improved her record against Sloane Stephens to 4-0 with a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.