Halep eases past error-prone Keys to Montreal title


Montreal: Simona Halep beat a mistake-prone Madison Keys 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Montreal hardcourt tournament and claim her 14th career singles crown.

World number five Halep, of Romania, has now won 23 of her last 26 matches, a stretch that has included lifting titles in Madrid, Bucharest and now Montreal.

“It was not my best tennis because I couldn’t play my best tennis,” Halep said. “I cannot hit stronger than her because she’s very strong.

“I tried just to keep the ball away from her and to make her run.

“I think I did it pretty well, and she missed shots. It was really tough for me to hit winners today.”

Halep had some unfinished business to take care of at this tournament after reaching the final for the second straight year. Halep was unable to close the deal last year when she became ill in the third set, handing the title to unseeded Belinda Bencic.

Sunday’s win wasn’t pretty as she hit just four winners against Keys, an American playing in her first career hardcourt tournament final.

It was a match Keys would no doubt like to quickly forget as she finished with 45 unforced errors and had her serve broken five times, including four times in the opening set.

Her best previous hardcourt performance was a semi-final run at the 2015 Australian Open. She also reached the semis at Sydney in 2014 and Osaka in 2013.

“I’m obviously not going to say it’s a bad week just because I lost one match. I think I played really a pretty good tournament,” Keys said.

“I wish today went a little bit differently. Sometimes it happens. Just take the positives from that and move on.”

Halep is the first player to reach back-to-back finals in the event since Jennifer Capriati did it in 2001 and 2002.

Halep won a sloppy first set in 43 minutes despite hitting just one winner.

The Romanian took the set on the second of five potential set points in the tiebreaker when Keys hit a backhand wide.

She then claimed the title on another Keys error as the American blasted a forehand into the net on championship point.