As it Happened: Semifinal Saturday

Men's Singles

(2) Roger Federer (Switzerland) D. (11) David Goffin (Belgium) 7-6(3), 1-1 (Ret.) Shoulder

Seven-time Western & Southern Open champion Roger Federer will have a chance to add an eighth after David Goffin retired from their semifinal match tonight. 
 
Goffin, who beat Federer in the their last match-up, was competitive in a first set, but felt a sensation in his shoulder as the set progressed.
 
“I was serving 100 miles per hour on the first serve and had sensation in my arm and shoulder,” Goffin said. “I was feeling great and moving well. After I lost the first set, I had to serve two more sets to win the match, so it didn’t make sense to continue.”
 
Federer moves on to face Novak Djokovic for the tournament title for a fourth time and right on schedule. The previous meetings were in 2015 and 2012. Federer took all three.
 
The ATP powerhouses will clash for a 45th time and the first time the 2016 Australian Open semifinals. Djokovic leads the series 23-22. He’s won three of the past four and six of the past 10.
 
“What’s nice about this? It’s fresh. It’s not we have played in the last few weeks and everybody knows what to expect,” Federer said. “In general here in Cincinnati, you've got to win the big points. There are not that many opportunities, especially if you protect your serve well. Everything goes very quickly.”

(10) Novak Djokovic (Serbia) D. (7) Marin Cilic (Croatia)

Novak Djokovic bulled his way into his sixth W&S Open final by neutralizing the big-serving 2016 tournament champion Marin Cilic.   
 
The Serbian now owns 31 W&S Open victories, the most of any player in the tournament Open Era without a title. He’ll take aim at his first Rookwood Cup for the first time since 2015 tomorrow.     
 
Should he complete the mission, he’ll be the first to capture the ATP Golden Masters, a career collection of nine World Masters 1000 championships (Canada, Cincinnati, Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Paris, Rome, and Shanghai)
 
“History is on the line. I’m aware of that and that motivates me even more,” Djokovic said.
 
He was in top form throughout the match and delivered perhaps his most precise shot down 2-5 at 30-40 in the second set when he snuck a bullet backhand winner that caught the left line.    
 
Djokovic carried the final set winning two of four break points, including one that put him ahead 5-3, hammering five aces and winning 90 percent of his first-service points.
 
He turned the match going up 4-3 in the set by breaking Cilic. He gained the advantage when Cilic returned a deep volley into the net. Djokovic captured the game bending a steaming forehand winner just inside the line.
 
Djokovic went up 40-0 in final game of the set. He double faulted to make it 15-40 before impressively sealing the match with a forehand cross-court winner.
 
He said a calculated mental approach helped take the competitive match.
 
“In a way you feel the sense of urgency (at the end of the third set) because there is not much time left. Yesterday 4-3 in the third, today 4-3 in the third, I make crucial breaks.
 
“I wasn't just kind of closing my eyes and going for the shots. I was trying to tactically play smart and strategically play the certain shots that would put me in a better position than my opponent.
 
“When you play guys like Cilic and Raonic, you kind of have to be lucky to anticipate their serve, try to block it, try to put it in play and develop a point in a way which will allow you to win it.
 
“Today I made a passing shot down the line which was quite awesome, and I was lucky to hit the line. That's what happens. That one point, one shot, decided a winner of the match today. That's how close it was. Similar to yesterday's match, not much has really separated us,” he concluded.
 
Djokovic will make his run at Cincinnati and ATP history tomorrow against either Roger Federer in a potential rematch of the 2015 tournament final or Belgian David Goffin.

Women's Singles

(1) Simona Halep (Romania) D. Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) 6-3, 6-4

WTA No. 1 and top-seeded Simona Halep ended 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka’s entertaining tournament debut in an efficient 97 minutes.
 
Halep will compete in her second straight and third W&S Open final in the past four years after racking up her 20th tournament victory,
 
The Romanian, who will play in her sixth singles final this season tomorrow, took the match by winning 5 of 7 break points and successfully landing 76 percent of her first serves.
 
The power-prone Sabalenka ripped seven aces, but committed three double faults and was only 2-for-7 on break points.
 
“It was a big challenge for me to have an opponent that is so young, winning tough matches, with her confidence very high.
 
“It's tough to fix a plan because she's a very powerful opponent. You have just to adjust yourself there on court.
 
“I said that I have just to relax and to play my game, which I did,” Halep said.
 
She’ll take on unseeded and WTA No. 17 Kiki Bertens in tomorrow’s final.
 
Halep holds a 3-1 edge in the series and took the last meeting 7-5, 6-1 in the 2017 Rome semifinals. Bertens knocked Halep out of the 2012 Morocco semifinals by a 6-3, 6-4 count.
 
“We played many times. She hits low, very low balls. She's serving well.
 
"I will just try ot keep the attention on myself. I feel like my game is working well. So, there's a chance tomorrow to win it, for sure, but it's gonna be a tough run," Halep said.

Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) D. (8) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

WTA No. 17 and unseeded Kiki Bertens rolled to her first W&S Open final with a straightforward three-sets victory ahead of 2012 tournament semifinalist and current No. 6 Petra Kvitova.
 
Bertens, 26, who took down No. 9 Karolina Pliskova and Kvitova while reaching the Montréal quarterfinals, collected her third WTA top-10 in a week and her ninth this season.
 
Tied at three in the first set, Kvitova was able deliver forehand winners that helped her secure 71 percent of her second return points after working Bertens out of position with well-placed returns.
 
“I think in the beginning I was a little bit struggling with the serve, especially,” Bertens said. “Petra was returning and serving really well.”
 
Bertens turned the tables in the second set going 4-for-5 on break points and winning 71 percent of her first-return points.
 
“In the second set, I was getting better. I felt fit and was going for my shots,” she said.
 
Rising confidence helped her build a 3-0 lead in a third set she closed out with stellar service, driving home six aces and winning all her 13 first-serve points.
 
“My serve was going well in the end. It was just a matter of keeping going,” Bertens added.
 
She was 7-for-11 in break points for the match and benefitted from 48 Kvitova unforced errors.
 
Bertens is now 6-3 all-time in Cincinnati and expected to rise to 15th in the WTA rankings with today’s victory,  
 
She could reach 13th if she claims the Rookwood Cup tomorrow.
 
”It’s such a great event, like a big one. I'm really happy to be in this final.
 
“For me, it doesn't matter who's gonna win (the second semifinal). I think it’s going to be a great match. Halep is playing some great tennis - won, of course, last week. But, Sabalenka having a great year hitting the ball so hard,” Bertens said.
 

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