It was the first quarter final in Toronto yesterday. Coco Gauff having her best season as a pro looking for another big scalp in the form of former Wimbledon champ Simona, the only all seeded last eight match of the draw. Gauff already dispatched this year’s SW19 Champ Rybakina and sixth seed Sabalenka in the last two rounds whilst Halep has had a decent summer. Semi final appearances in all grass court tournaments she took part in. First things first, how did the two fare on serve? Not very good. How was the return games from both? Superb. Coco and Simona returned balls they had no right to throughout the match especially in set two which went the distance. One feature of Coco’s game that has evolved is her groundstroke game , maybe to the detriment of her net game I suppose. Check out 2-2 first set first point. Coco hit great corner finding shots here but when it came to coming to the net , her choice of shots left a lot to be desired. Simona Halep at the start of this year realized that it was time for changes after an underwhelming 2021. The major change was in her coaching staff. In came former Serena coach Patrick Mouratoglu. Patrick is big on practice and perfecting the mental aspects of players. Check out second set 4-3 Halep 30-30. After being up 3-0 on the double break, the Romanian had lost her way a little bit on serve. Great returns from the American which Simona couldn’t handle, well crafted point. Like a true Mouratoglu player, Simona hung on the best she could making Coco play the extra shot.
Halep showed resilience to hold serve in that game, Coco missing a volley at break point 40-30 at the net. Watch 5-3 Halep, 30-0 Gauff. Again questionable decision making at the net costing Coco. The drive forehand volley straight at Halep wasn’t ideal here from the 18 year old, with an open right side of court. Halep missed two chances to close out the match on her racquet. One was at 5-4 the other was at 6-5. Point of the match 6-5 30-30. Great ground strokes from both, with Coco finding the lines and ultimately having the edge as a result. Deft volley at net was more like it. Simona proved the mentally tough of the two in the breaker. The Romanian was out of sight when she won this point at 4-2. Classic one two punch, serve out wide with slice opening the court up. Coco’s head dropped. At 6-2 facing the barrel , first of 4 match points she capitulated. Tried the same serve as above out wide , didn’t get the angle right. Halep has another semi against American Jessica Pegula to negotiate today, looking for her first title of the year.