MONTREAL (AFP) - World No. 1 Simona Halep powered into the final of the WTA Canada hard-court tournament on Saturday (Aug 11), cruising past Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-1.
The Romanian will now face US Open winner Sloane Stephens, who overpowered defending champion Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 in the second semi-final, in a rematch of the French Open final on Sunday's final.
Halep was in control from the outset against a nervous-looking Barty, whose challenge was undone by a string of unforced errors.
The Australian was in trouble on her opening service game, an error giving French Open champion Halep a break point which she duly converted with a superb backhand cross-court winner.
The next three games went with serve to leave Halep 3-1 up and the 26-year-old then bagged her second break in the fifth game when another Barty error let Halep off the hook to take the game to deuce.
A sensational backhand winner down the line gave Halep a break point and when Barty limply returned into the net on the next exchange she found herself 4-1 down.
Barty grabbed a consolation break of serve to make it 4-2, but was unable to claw back another break as Halep took the first set 6-4.
Halep went for the jugular in the second set, opening with two quick breaks to take a 3-0 lead. Barty offered a flicker of resistance in the fourth game after earning three break points to go to 0-40.
But once again Halep's experience came to the fore and she fought back to deuce and saved another break point before holding for 4-0.
Both players then held before Halep soon took three match points at 0-40 in the seventh game.
Barty fought back to deuce to delay the inevitable before but Halep secured another break to reach her third Canadian final in four years.
Stephens had dominated the first set, scoring two early breaks to race into a 4-0 lead against a hesitant Svitolina.
The Ukrainian rallied briefly to get back to 5-3 but then handed Stephens another break and the first set when she sent a forehand wide.
The second set was a similar story, with Stephens going 3-1 up after an early break. The 25-year-old from Florida then overcame a wobble in the fifth game, double-faulting three times before eventually holding for a 4-1 lead and closing out the set and match.
The American will have an uphill task against Halep on Sunday, having only beaten the Romanian twice in their previous eight meetings.