“Both players have shown us their C games today,” Chris Evert said at the end of the first set of Sunday’s final between Simona Halep and Madison Keys in Montreal. That may have sounded harsh, but most people watching probably thought that Evert was being kind.
Halep’s break-filled, error-filled 7-6 (2), 6-3 win was a match for the Romanian—and only the Romanian—to remember. Tired from a rare week of singles and doubles, Halep hit just four winners and was broken four times, but still won in straight sets. That’s because Keys, after taking a couple of big steps forward in her career over the last two months, took one back in this match. The American made 45 errors in 22 games, and was broken five times. After selecting and shaping her shots so well the past week, she struggled to get them to clear the net against Halep.
“Make your opponent hit one more ball” is an all-time tennis cliché, but that’s essentially all Halep had to do to win this final. You could see how important her defensive skills were going to be in the first game. For Keys, the revelation of the week had been her backhand; hitting it upwards of 80 m.p.h., she had found a crosscourt groove with it that none of her opponents had been able to counter. But on the fourth point of the match on Sunday, Halep did just that. Keys ripped her backhand crosscourt, Halep made it there in time to reflex it back and Keys missed the next forehand into the net.