Simona Halep vs. Serena Williams
This should be a fun match. Serena wants to enter the US Open with some momentum by defending her 2014 Cincinnati title. Simona Halep is trying to rescue her year by reaching the final rounds in Toronto and now Cincinnati. The two exchanged one-sided matches in the 2014 season finale. In Miami earlier this year they dueled in an instant classic. Simona Halep along with Victoria Azarenka seems to be one of the few in the top 10 who wants to play Serena. Therefore, this could be a close match as Simona does not seem defeated coming out of the locker room.
I expect Serena to be in a superior position as her serve should allow her to dictate many points, and Serena should be able to attack Halep’s serve. Halep’s speed and grinder mentality will allow for her to sneak a few points from losing positions by eliciting errors from Serena. Halep also has been getting some coaching from Darren Cahill who likely has discussed strategies for facing Serena with Halep.
I think unless the pressure of the calendar slam quest is impacting Serena that Williams is the clear favorite. An upset is possible, but Serena wins this match 70% or more of the time.
My Prediction: Serena Williams d. Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4