Bertens stuns Halep to claim title

Kiki Bertens won the biggest title of her career on Saturday, beating Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4 in the Madrid Open final while also becoming the first woman ever to win the championship without dropping a set.

Making up for her loss in last year's final to Petra Kvitova, the clay court triumph ensured the Dutchwoman Bertens will move to a career-best fourth in the world rankings on Monday and become the highest ranked Dutchwoman in history.

The defeat was extra painful for Halep, though, who would have regained the number one ranking had she won.

Bertens came back from 4-2 down in the first set against French Open champion Halep by winning the next three games, striking the first blow in a gripping final full of drama which lasted one hour and 27 minutes.

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.

The Romanian stayed in contention but was dealt a terrible dose of luck in the eighth game which handed more momentum to Bertens.

A shot from Bertens was heading way out and would have handed Halep two break points but the wayward ball struck the Romanian's body, earning her opponent a fortuitous point that eventually led to her holding serve.

Bertens earned her first championship point with a scorching ace but Halep saved it with a drop volley at the net, only to then hand her rival another one by finding the net with a careless shot.

Bertens missed out again but earned a third championship point when Halep narrowly missed the baseline and she finally seized her ninth WTA title when the world number two hit a backhand out.

It was Bertens' fourth victory over a Grand Slam winner during the week on her way to the title.

"I just feel really happy. I am really proud of this week. I played some good tennis and will be number four in the world on Monday, it is just all amazing things," Bertens added.

 

Nadal ousted

Novak Djokovic will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Madrid Open title after the 20-year-old Greek stunned Rafael Nadal to win a thrilling semifinal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 on his fourth match point.

Nadal had been a clear favourite but the 17-time Grand Slam champion extended his stuttering build-up to the French Open with another surprise defeat.

Tsitsipas' stunning victory on Saturday means he reaches his fourth ATP final of the season while fully vindicating those that have him circled as a future star of the men's game.

"Emotionally it was very tough, it was one of my toughest wins," he said.

By his own high standards, Nadal's clay-court swing has been disappointing. He lost in the last four in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, arriving in Madrid without winning either tournament for the first time since 2015.

"It's a lost chance," admitted five-time champion Nadal after his third straight semifinal defeat on clay.

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