Siniakova tames Sharapova, faces Halep in Shenzhen final

Czech defending champion Katerina Siniakova fended off Maria Sharapova in a fiercely contested match at the Shenzhen Open on Friday to set up a final with world number one Simona Halep.

Siniakova fired 27 winners and 10 aces to prevail 6-2 3-6 6-3 but was made to work hard for the win after Russian Sharapova rediscovered her rhythm midway through the contest.

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After losing the first set, Sharapova attacked Siniakova’s serve to seal an early break in the second set.

The five-times grand slam champion gave little away after that and leveled the contest at one set apiece.

A stinging backhand down the line gave Siniakova a decisive break in the final set and the sixth seed hung on to close out the match in just under two hours.

Halep beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1 6-4 in one hour 29 minutes to claim a second career final spot at Shenzhen.

The top seed broke Begu early in the contest to race into a 4-1 lead. Begu sent a forehand wide in a see-sawing sixth game as Halep broke again and took the first set on serve.

Fourth seed Begu, seeking a first win over Halep at her sixth attempt, fought back to lead 3-2 in the second set but Halep eventually subdued the comeback attempt to seal victory.

”It was a tough match,“ Halep said in a courtside interview. ”I know she is a strong player and in the second set you could see she was improving her game so it was a tougher battle.

“I think I was strong enough to stay there and hit the ball stronger in the end because the energy (from Begu) was falling a little bit. I came back, I served pretty well in the last game and I‘m pretty proud of my victory today, it was a tough one.”

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