(Reuters) - World number one Simona Halep of Romania tamed compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets to reach the final of the Shenzhen Open in China on Friday.
Halep, who hit 15 winners to win 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes, relied on precision and counter-punching in a tight second set to seal a second career final at Shenzhen.
Up next for Halep is the winner of the second semi-final between defending champion Katerina Siniakova and five-times grand slam champion Maria Sharapova.
Top seed Halep broke her rival early in the contest to race to 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.
Begu, seeking a first win over Halep in her sixth attempt, fought back after an early break to lead 3-2 in the second set. She attacked her rival with great gusto but Halep subdued the comeback attempt and sealed the match.
“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 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.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty