In the rich history of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, Sunday’s final between Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens is one that will live long in our collective memory.
At the close of the clash between the two titans, the World No.1 overpowered the third seed in three tight sets (7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4) to earn her sixth straight win over the American powerhouse.
Because it was a battle of dominant returners, it was no surprise that the players’ serves collapsed no less than 15 times. Stephens broke her rival eight times versus seven for Halep. There were 35 break points in the match, which ended with an ace by Halep on her fourth match point.
Even in the first set, it was clear how high the stakes were. Halep got up 4-1 thanks to two break points, but Stephens refused to back down and came back stronger to take the set to a nail-biting tiebreaker. She even found two set points but a combative Halep fought back to claim the set after 70 minutes of play.
The crowd was on fire as the players headed out to start the second set. Stephens took every opportunity that was handed to her and came out on top.
It therefore took a third set to determine the champion. Mighty and likely fresher than Halep after a less exhausting week, Stephens seemed to be cruising to victory. But no one had counted on Halep’s incredible fitness or her ability to overcome fatigue and play her best tennis at critical times. Her anticipation and determination eventually got the better of Stephens, who struggled as the points went on. In the end, the result was the same as the final at Roland-Garros this past June.
Amid the richly deserved swells of cheers, Halep and Stephens shook hands with 220 points between them: 111 for the runner-up and 109 for the champion.
Halep regains the title she won in Montréal in 2016. As for Stephens, she will have the chance to redeem herself at Flushing Meadows, where she is the current titleholder.