Halep to face Bertens in Madrid Open final

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Simona Halep blows a kiss to celebrate victory over Belinda Bencic; Getty Images
Simona Halep will take on last year’s finalist Kiki Bertens in the Madrid Open final, with a return to the world No.1 ranking on the line.

World No.3 Simona Halep will face Kiki Bertens in the final of the Madrid Open, after the Romanian beat Belinda Bencic and Bertens overcame Sloane Stephens.

Halep reached her fourth Madrid final with a 6-2 6-7(2) 6-0 win while last year’s runner up Bertens came through 6-2 7-5.

World No.3 Halep can move back to the top of the WTA rankings with a win in Saturday’s final.

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Two-times Madrid winner Halep broke the unseeded Bencic in the first game of the first set on Friday, the Swiss’s errant backhand flying out, but she broke back to tie at 2-2.

The Romanian broke for a 3-2 lead and sealed another break in the penultimate game before serving out to win it comfortably in 27 minutes.

Halep won virtually all of the long rallies, but Bencic reacted well at the start of the second set, playing more aggressively.

Bencic broke to go 3-1 up, enjoying a stroke of luck with a shot that clipped the net and dropped just over.

Halep battled back, earning a tiebreak, but Bencic won it comfortably to force a deciding set, although she immediately started to struggle.

At three games down, she cried during the changeover, with Halep immediately breaking for 4-0 when play resumed, going on to wrap up the set and the match with ease.

“It’s a nice feeling to be back in the final of this special tournament, I’m really happy playing here,” Halep said.

“In the second set in that tiebreak I was rushing too much, I lost control of it, but then I just calmed down, told myself I had to start the match again.

“I started to play smarter, opened the court more and became more aggressive.”

Bertens had to save three set points against Stephens but eventually recorded her first victory against the American in their third encounter.

The Dutch world No.7 triumphed in St Petersburg this season and is going for her ninth career title on Saturday.

“I feel unbelievable of course, it’s great to be in the final and I’m happy to finish it in two (sets),” Bertens said.

“It’s going to be really tough (against Halep), we played each other in the past so I know it will be a tough battle, but I’m ready for it, one more push here.”

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