Monday, 27 May, 2019

Halep beats Bencic to reach fourth Madrid Open final

WTA Madrid Kiki Bertens downs Sloane Stephens for another Madrid final Madrid Open: Simona Halep misses out on number one ranking with final loss to Kiki Bertens
Sidney Guerrero | 14 May, 2019, 22:40

Simona Halep reached her fourth Madrid Open final with a 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-0 win over Belinda Bencic yesterday.

Romania's Halep will overtake Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings if she wins the title.

She has to win the title, which means a victory come Saturday over either Kiki Bertens or Sloane Stephens, but in this kind of form, it is a courageous person who would bet against it.

Can Kim Bertens get done what she couldn't finish a year ago, or will Simona Halep finally complete a 2019 journey? She broke again, 5-2, and served out the set in a scant half hour, 6-2, having won 15 of the last 17 points.

But Halep pulled herself together to blitz Bencic in the third as she raced to a victory that increases her chances of returning to the top of the pile. I played stupidly today, I did everything that she liked.

The serve of the Japanese deserted her and she double-faulted to hand Bencic a 4-2 advantage.

Halep finally stemmed the tide by winning her first game in seven, a curling forehand clipping the line, and then she broke for 2-2 as a Bertens backhand drifted wide.

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Yet Bencic's momentum completely disappeared in the third as she became the third player in this tournament to be shut out in a set by Halep, who dished out a bagel against Margarita Gasparyan and two in her demolition of Viktoria Kuzmova. She defeated Halep 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 earlier this year in the quarterfinals at Dubai.

Stephens comfortably saw off Croatian Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3 to set up a semi-final with Bertens after the Dutch seventh seed stunned world number two Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 in Thursday's late match under the floodlights.

The 21-year-old added that knowing her top WTA ranking could possibly be in danger after failing to reach the Madrid semi-finals might have played on her mind throughout the match. After a hold, she broke to clinch the set with another backhand victor to send the match to a third set. She's the only player to do this in tournament history.

And so the mighty Romanian maintains her assault on reclaiming not just the Madrid title but the No1 ranking.

They've split two clay matches. Belinda Bencic battled past World No. 1 in one of the best performance in her career.

It will come down to a battle between Bertens and her power game against Halep's more polished all-around play.

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