Defending champion Simona Halep eases into Madrid Open final

Simona Halep of Romania and France's Kristina Mladenovic will contest the women's singles final at the Madrid Open after both won their semi-finals today. The match did not really seem to catch fire with the next few games being pretty competitive before Mladenovic got the advantage she needed late in the first set for a break, before serving the first set out on her third set point. The 23-year-old is due to rise to a career-high ranking of 14 at the end of the tournament but should she claim the biggest title of her career, she will be the new world number 13.

Momentum swung backwards and forwards during a marathon opening set on Estadio Manolo Santana.

Despite visibly struggling with a back injury, Mladenovic bravely fought back from a set down to push Halep over the distance but eventually she ran out of steam. "That's going to be a brand-new challenge for me, especially that she's more used to being in a finals of such a big events than me, especially here in Madrid".

Sevastova went into the match without having dropped a set in the tournament but she proved no match for the Romanian who eased to a 6-2 6-3 success. The two met at the 2017 Indian Wells Masters where Mladenovic defeated Halep in straight sets. Kerber will need to find her rhythm before the French Open with players such as Simona Halep and Kristina Mladenovic surging. She will also join Williams as the only two players to retain the title.

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"I think that was an unbelievable final". Later in the set, with Halep leading 6-5, Mladenovic was able to hold serve to send it into a tiebreak, and then won in five points to force a third set.

And make no mistake, Halep has fine clay credentials.

"I can just be proud out there from both of us what we showed". Even though I'm leading in our head-to-head, we never played on clay, I think. Got to give credit to Simona for an wonderful game today.

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