Halep tunes up for US Open with New Haven title
New Haven: Simona Halep rolled past defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday in the WTA New Haven final, her first hardcourt title coming days before the US Open.
Halep, 21, notched her fourth title of 2013, adding it to claycourt titles won at Nuremberg and Budapest and a grasscourt crown at 's-Hertogenbosch.
She needed just 66 minutes to defeat former Wimbledon champion Kvitova, the third seed, punctuating her first premier level triumph with her only ace of the contest on her first match point.
"It was an incredible match for me," Halep beamed. "I played very beautiful tennis today. I was enjoying every moment.
"She played really good also. I'm really happy that I won this match and this tournament. I am feeling very, very good -- it's an unbelievable period for me this year."
Kvitova had plenty of early chances, but failed to convert four break points before Halep broke her for a 3-2 led in the opening set.
Kvitova's double fault gave Halep the break opportunity, and the hard-hitting Czech smacked a deep volley long on break point.
"I was very nervous before the match," admitted Halep. "I knew she would play very good, but I just wanted to enjoy the match. I tried to be aggressive."
Halep had won nine games on the trot to seal the opening set and take a 4-0 lead in the second before Kvitova managed to hold serve again, the Czech's errors mounting as Halep's confidence built.
Kvitova finished with 25 unforced errors against 13 winners, while Halep belted 14 winners with just six unforced errors.
Halep, who gained a measure of notoriety this month when her second-round victory over Marion Bartoli at Cincinnati was quickly followed by the French Wimbledon champion's abrupt retirement from the sport, is projected to break into the top 20 in the world next week at 19 in the rankings.
She is seeded 21st at the US Open, where she'll be trying to translate her recent success to a Grand Slam.
So far this year she has failed to shine on the game's major stages, reaching the second round at Wimbledon and falling in the first round at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
At Flushing Meadows she'll face Britain's Heather Watson in the first round. She could get Italian fourth seed Sara Errani in the round of 16 and Danish sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals.
Halep defeated Wozniacki, a four-time New Haven champion, in the semi-finals on the hardcourts at Yale University this week.
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