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Halep outlasts determined Mladenovic to retain Madrid title

14 May 2017

That'll happen after getting one win combined in Australia and Indian Wells, but Halep has gradually built back up, with a quarterfinal showing in Miami and semifinals in Stuttgart, setting the stage for her title on Saturday in Madrid over Kristina "Kiki" Mladenovic, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

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. However, Mladenovic has been in scintillating all week as well, and her all-court game could pose more problems for Halep.

The Romanian went up an early break in the second but Mladenovic pegged her back and eventually ran away with the set in the tiebreak.

And Halep completely broke Mladenovic's spirit in another epic 14-point game for a 5-2 lead before serving out for the championship to love.

"We know each other's game really well", Mladenovic said of her friend and frequent doubles partner Kuznetsova.

Victory meant Halep also became the first player in the tournament's history to reach the final three times, having finished as runner-up in 2014.

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This time , it could be Juventus' year, especially after it eased past the Catalan team 3-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals. It is also the first time since 2002 that a final will be played in the United Kingdom, but outside of England.

Mladenovic, ranked 17, will seek to add to the maiden WTA Tour triumph she enjoyed in St Petersburg in February. Can Mladenovic make it three out of three? or will Halep resume normality?

Simona, you look very happy, very relieved, and maybe a little bit exhausted after a very tough final against Kristina Mladenovic. Kerber will need to find her rhythm before the French Open with players such as Simona Halep and Kristina Mladenovic surging.

"I think that was an awesome final". Great spirit, attitude, great game. Halep is a former French Open finalist and of course won the title here a year ago.

Simona Halep thanked much-criticised Romanian Fed Cup coach Ilie Nastase after defending her title, but the 70-year-old's role in the trophy presentation was labelled "irresponsible and unacceptable" by the WTA.

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.