Halep d. Radwanska, 7-5, 6-1
If you walked into this match at 4-0 in the first set, with Aga Radwanska leading, the conclusion would have been a shocker. But, somehow at 0-4, Simona Halep summoned her self-proclaimed “fighter girl” and inched her way back into this match. As neither player has an overwhelming weapon, this was always going to be a match of nuance. Halep packs more power into her shots, but doesn’t consistently play with the variety that Radwanska often uses to dazzle. And so at 0-4, Halep simply dug in — playing longer rallies, and waiting to put away shots. As Halep began to gain ground, Radwanska lost some of her edge — her touch wavered a bit, and she made more errors. After pulling even at 4-all, Halep traded breaks with Radwanksa, before finally taking the set 7-5 on a dropshot.
After doing all of this, Halep called coach Darren Cahill in for a chat. Like everyone else watching, he was impressed with her fight, and advised her to do more of the same. And, the second set was a perfunctory affair, with Radwanska fading, either from discouragement, a long week (and month) of travel and rain, or simply the dogged fight from Halep, and it ended 6-1. After a shaky start to the year, Halep is looking strong for today’s semifinals, and for the rest of the season.
Murray d. Tomic, 6-4, 6-4
One guy is exhausted from the Olympics, walking gingerly, and had medical treatment for his back midway through the second set. The other guy lost 6-4, 6-4. In what may already be called the summer of Andy, Andy Murray managed to get past Bernard Tomic in the late match in Cincinnati. Tomic has had a good week, taking advantage of the Olympic wear and tear to get past Kei Nishikori in the prior round. It was hard not to think he might do it again tonight, against a Murray who looked decidedly worse for the wear of Rio.
But, even at less than his best, Murray was able to stay with Tomic in the rallies, and, more importantly, he managed his own service games well, winning 85% of first serve points, and finishing with 10 aces. Some of this is also due to Tomic’s failure to push Murray on his serve, particularly on the few second serve opportunities there were. But, given the wave of confidence Murray is riding these days, perhaps it was less of an opportunity for Tomic than it might have seemed. As for Murray, a well-rested Milos Raonic in the next round is a formidable challenge, and the quick turnaround from the last night match to an afternoon semifinal won’t be easy, but he’s showing that he won’t fade away easily.