simona-halep-romaniaMadrid Open defending champion,  Simona Halep, defeated Latvia’s Anastasia Sevastova 6-2 and 6-3, to reach the final of this Spanish Masters 1000 tournament.

The Romanian became the first player to reach the Madrid Open final three times. She won in the Spanish capital in 2016 and lost in 2014 against Russian Maria Sharapova.

This time she returns to defend her crown against Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who defeated Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6.

The Romanian defeated the Latvian, for the fourth time in seven matches, in an hour and thirteen minutes. Halep recently defeated Sevastova in April in Stuttgart and in the Bucharest final in 2016.

Halep, ranked eighth in the world, was more solid. She won with authority the first set and then stopped the reaction of her rival in the second to regain momentum of the set and close the match.

Sevastova, a first-timer in Madrid, was unable to win the second set despite taking a 3-0 lead. In the fourth game the Romanian started her comeback and won six straight games in a row to take the match.

In the end, Halep imposed her experience and superiority and completed her comeback win to reach her third Madrid Open final. She will now defend her crown against Mladenovic who has a 1-5 record in WTA Tour finals. Mladenovic’s only win was against Kazakhstan Yulia Putintseva in this year’s St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy in February.

Halep will be the second Romanian player Mladenovic will face in Madrid as she already defeated Sorana Cirstea in the quarterfinals by a score of 6-4, 6-4.

Halep had a rough route to the tournament’s final with victories over Czech Karolina Pliskova in the first round (6-2, 6-1), a three-set win against Italian Roberta Vinci in the second round, another three-set win against Australia Samantha Stosur in the round of 16 and a dominating 6-1, 6-1 win over American Coco Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals.


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