Romania’s Halep wins Mutua Madrid Open women’s singles event for second consecutive time

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epa05962334 Romania's Simona Halep poses with her trophy after winning against France's Kristina Mladenovic in the women's final match of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, 13 May 2017. EPA/KIKO HUESCA

Romania’s Simona Halep on Saturday won the 5,439,350-USD Mutua Madrid Open’s women’s singles event, for the second consecutive time, after defeating France’s Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 6-7 (5) 6-2 in the final.

No.3 Halep, 25, WTA’s 8th, who in 2016 had an easy win over Dominika Cibulkova in the final, needed two hours and 44 minutes now to win its second Mutua Open singles titles in three finals she played in the capital city of Spain.

Halep thus added her 15 title to her tally, six of which came in 2013 – in Nuremberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia; two followed in 2014 in Doha and Bucharest, three in 2015 in Shenzhen, Dubai andIndian Wells, and three more in 2016 – in Madrid, Bucharest and Montreal. This is her first tile win in 2017.

Halep played eight finals before, in 2010 and 2011 in Fes (Morocco), in 2012 in Brussels, in 2014 in Madrid, Roland Garros and the Champions Tour, as well as in 2015 in Toronto and Cincinnati.

Early in the final play, Mladenovic led Halep 2-0, but the Romanian player managed three consecutive game points. Mladenovic bounced back to take a 5-3 lead, but Halep again recovered to win the set 7-5 after four consecutive game points.

Halep started the second step on the right foot, leading 2-0, but Mladenovic managed to equalise, 2-2, with the service unfolding to 6-6, and a tie break was needed. Mladenovic got a better resumption, increasing her lead to 3-0, and finally winning the set 7-5, although Halep was able to get to within one point difference.

Mladenovic won the first game in the decisive set after Halep wasted two break points, but Halep equalised and stretched her lead to 3-1. The French player scored a perfect game, which was also her last, as Halep got unstoppable to the end, closing the set with a 6-2 win.

Both players scored one ace each; Halep made 4 double faults to Mladenovic’s just 2, but Halep’s first service was far better (81 percent – 57 percent). They both had the same percentage of first serve won, 65 percent, with Mladenovic scoring a better second service won percentage 52 percent to 43 percent. Halep managed 22 winners to Mladenovic’s 40, but the French player made more unforced errors – 30 to Halep’s 18.

In the head-to-head count Halep still trails Mladenovic 2 to 3: she won in the R32 of the Cincinnati Masters 7-5 5-7 6-4. Mladenovic defeated Halep in the R32 in Paris 7-6 (1) 6-4 in 2014; in the 2015 Birmingham Open’s quarter-finals 2-6 6-0 7-6 (4) and in the 2017 Indian Wells Masters R32 6-3 6-3. None of Halep’s losses were on clay court.

For her latest success, Halep has won 1,043,680 euros and 1,000 WTA singles points.

 

Photo: EPA