Sports

Defending champion Simona Halep eases into Madrid Open final

Defending champion Simona Halep eases into Madrid Open final”

The Romanian took another step in her campaign to reach her third final in Madrid, after losing in 2014 and seizing the title in 2016. When she stepped up into the court and hit deep she invariably made Halep pay but in the first and third sets there were simply too many unforced errors to go with her winners.

Mladenovic saved break points in her opening service game, but couldn't repeat the trick when faced with two more as Halep broke for a 2-1 lead.

The 25-year-old is in fine form ahead of the French Open, which starts towards the end of the month, and she will climb to number four in the world when the rankings are released. But now I feel good because I played doubles and I relaxed my body.

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She went toe to toe with her higher-ranked opponent early in the match before Halep broke in the fifth and the seventh games and then comfortably served out the first set. Given this result, plus the ability of Simone to play in Madrid, she is a favorite and the upcoming semi-final. Halep hit an unforced error in the first point, Mladenovic was up 3-0, then 4-2 and on 5-4 she hit an incredible running drop shot, then a forehand victor on 6-5. The defending champion's title defence was in major jeopardy, but she defeated the Italian, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). It was a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory for Mladenovic, who's going to be competing in the biggest final of her career. She broke Mladenovic in the third game showing to be doing better physically.

Halep: I had a knee injury and was really scared about it at the beginning of the year because I'd never had that.

The final lasted two hours and 44 minutes, with both players pushing each other to their limits at times. She will need to serve well against Mladenovic, and she will look to dominate proceedings from the baseline and dictate the rallies. For her height, the Frenchwoman has good movement on clay, and this could be her moment to claim a big title.

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And make no mistake, Halep has fine clay credentials.

"I can just be proud out there from both of us what we showed".

Prediction: Halep in three sets.

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