Simona Halep beats Kristina Mladenovic to defend Madrid Open title

Made to pay for a slow start Samantha Stosur

Simona Halep defeated Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2 on Saturday to win the Madrid Open.

In the first game of the match Halep got broken, but then she broke back in the fourth game despite Mladenovic had six game points.

The Romanian beat Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets in the decider of this WTA Premier event on clay 12 months ago, but she was made to work far harder by the No.14 seed this time around.

Her only Major final to date has also been on clay, at Roland Garros, but Halep is no one-trick pony. The Frenchwoman won the subsequent tiebreak by stepping into the court and punishing Halep with those heavy forehands, celebrating passionately when she levelled it up at 1-1.

Halep handled unseeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-3, while Mladenovic upended No. 8 seed and former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6 (4).

A lively deciding set ensued, beginning with Mladenovic saving two break points in the opening game, only to struggle to do likewise in the third as Halep earned a vital break. However, Halep was improving all the time, and she broke again to level, and saved break point to hold for the lead, 6-5.

She is now due to face Mladenovic in tomorrow's final after the 23-year-old managed to get the better of Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova this evening.

The Romanian No3 seed, who is the first player to feature in three finals in the Spanish capital, is just the second woman to claim the trophy in consecutive seasons (Serena Williams won it in 2012-13). Can Mladenovic make it three out of three? or will Halep resume normality?

"Ilie thank you for coming, you are supporting me all match", said Halep.

"She plays with a great quality".

Both players know each other's game like the back of their hand, and the familiarity showed in the early stages of the match as they opened with a pair of breaks.

Halep has a vast experience in these big finals in contrast to Mladenovic. Halep is a former French Open finalist and of course won the title here previous year. Great spirit, attitude, great game.

The match opened in the worst way possible for the Australian, with Halep breaking her serve and Stosur couldn't peg that back.

However, Halep responded to break back in a marathon game as it took almost half an hour for the score just to reach 2-2.

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