Halep to face Vinci for Bucharest crown


The Sports Network

Bucharest, Romania (SportsNetwork.com) - Top seeds Simona Halep of Romania and Roberta Vinci of Italy were semifinal winners Saturday and will vie for the title the inaugural Bucharest Open.

The top-seeded Halep outlasted countrymate Monica Niculescu in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory after the second-seeded Vinci had cruised past Slovakia's Kristina Kucova in a 6-1, 6-3 rout.

Halep is coming off a semifinal loss to Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon after her maiden Grand Slam final appearance at the French Open, where she lost to Maria Sharapova.

Now ranked No. 3 in the world, Halep will play in a final for fourth time this year. She beat Angelique Kerber for the Doha crown in February and also lost to Sharapova in the Madrid final three months later.

Niculescu, though, gave Halep all she wanted in the second set, winning the final four games to force a third. She even had a break point in the opening game of the third, but failed to convert and Halep rolled from there.

Vinci had no such trouble in Saturday's first match, winning the first four games en route to her first final of 2014. She won a pair of titles last year, but struggled at the outset of this season with first-round losses in each of her first six events.

The 31-year-old Italian's best 2014 finish prior to this week was a quarterfinal loss at the Portugal Open in May. She entered this week on another skid with losses in the first round of her last four events, including opening-match setbacks at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Vinci, who did win this year's Wimbledon doubles title with Sara Errani, has been nearly unbeatable in WTA singles finals with a lifetime 9-1 mark.

Halep, with a record of 7-5 in finals, owns a 3-2 series advantage against Vinci, but the two haven't met since the 22-year-old Romanian came away with a 6-0, 6-1 thumping last year on the grass in Den Bosch. Halep has also won both prior meetings on clay.

The maiden Bucharest champion will pocket $43,000.

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