Simona Halep reached a third Italian Open final with a hard-fought win over Garbine Muguruza in Rome.
The two former French Open winners will be among the favourites in Paris and there was little to separate them in a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory for Halep that entertained the 1,000 fans allowed into the Foro Italico.
The Romanian began brilliantly and looked on course for a relatively straightforward victory when she led by a set and 4-2, only for Muguruza to reel off four games in a row.
— Internazionali Bnl (@InteBNLdItalia) September 20, 2020
The Spaniard had heavy strapping on her left thigh and Halep looked much the better physically as she moved into a 5-1 lead in the decider.
She was then broken twice serving for the match but Muguruza was unable to level the set, her disappointment obvious as she served back-to-back double faults to end the match.
Halep will hope it is third time lucky having lost to Elina Svitolina in the final in both 2017 and 2018.
The Romanian, meanwhile, is now on a 13-match winning streak having won titles in Dubai in February and Prague in August.
Halep will take on defending champion Karolina Pliskova after she cruised to victory over Marketa Vondrousova.
The number two seed needed only 82 minutes to qualify for the final after a 6-2 6-4 success against her fellow Czech.
— wta (@WTA) September 20, 2020
Pliskova struck 23 winners but also had to show determination to ensure Vondrousova only claimed two break points despite having seven chances to do so.
Monday’s final will be the 12th meeting between Pliskova and Halep and, despite the Czech winning the last two, Romanian Halep holds the upper hand with seven victories and got the better of her rival in the last four of the French Open three years ago.
“It’s going to be super tough because she’s fighting hard, won the tournament in Prague and is into the final here,” former world number one Pliskova said.
“It’s never going to be easy against her, no matter the tournament, but it’s going to be a great final.”