WTA Madrid final preview: Halep and Bertens will fight for the crown

WTA Madrid Kiki Bertens downs Sloane Stephens for another Madrid final

WTA Madrid Kiki Bertens downs Sloane Stephens for another Madrid final

Halep reached the final by beating opponents like Johanna Konta, Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic along the way, losing only a set in the semifinal against the Swiss.

A further hold made the score 3-3, but Osaka regrouped and at 30-30, Bencic missed a backhand to bring up break point to which ahe double-faulted, Osaka back in front 5-3.

Four games won in a row, including a booming backhand down the line for 5-4, helped Bertens claim the first set before a brilliant lob set up a break in the opening game of the second.

"At the beginning I was a little bit searching for my game still, but I think the rest of the match I played really solid, really smart", Bertens told a news conference.

That she also had two wins from three meetings over Halep gave still more weight to her challenge of reaching the final, the most recent of them a three-set thriller in Dubai. "So, I think it's helping me a lot for my game".

Bertens, who hit four aces among her 25 winners in an excellent performance, got off to an ideal start in the opening game of the second by breaking Halep, who was playing in her third Madrid final after triumphs in 2016 and 2017.

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"I thought coming into the match, he was the favorite to win it", Djokovic said. "I didn't want to lose twice in a row", said Osaka, who was also defeated by Bencic at Indian Wells in March. Bencic also beat the double Grand Slam victor in March at Indian Wells.

"Of course, I'm very happy", the world No. 18 said. I played some good tennis. "It was opposite today, I was mostly the defense, and Simona was the aggressive one, so I think that makes the difference as well". The Swiss opened with a fine touch volley victor, and she edged to 3-0 with a backhand return-of-serve victor.

Halep will be bidding for her third Madrid title and 19th overall. Unhappy with her tennis and with life on the tour, Bertens spent the off-season taking stock on what she wanted out of her career.

"I know it's going to be a tough battle".

Halep, though, was not backing off from her strategy, broke straight back, and they would continue like the proverbial unstoppable force versus immovable object in a wonderful passage of play and high intensity.

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