Bertens shocks Halep to claim Madrid crown

Madrid Open: Simona Halep misses out on number one ranking with final loss to Kiki Bertens

The 27-year-old player from the Netherlands looked dominant throughout the summit showdown as she eased past reigning French Open champion Halep 6-4, 6-4 in nearly one and a half hour to lift the title.

Twice Madrid victor Halep broke the unseeded Bencic in the first game of the first set, the Swiss's errant backhand flying out, but she broke back to tie at 2-2.

Romania's Simona Halep missed out on regaining the world number one ranking as she lost the Madrid Open final to Kiki Bertens.

Naomi Osaka is not too anxious for the French Open, despite admitting she was distracted by "too many things" in her 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 Madrid Open quarter-final loss to Belinda Bencic on Thursday.

Bencic was under immediate pressure to start the second set, facing three break points in her opening service game, but Osaka was unable to convert on any of her chances, which would prove to be critical.

The second set began in similar fashion, a break apiece, but this time, it was Bencic who looked the bolder, stronger and more creative with her tactics.

Halep was excellent off both the backhand and forehand sides as she hauled herself level, but Bertens stepped up the intensity once again to retake the initiative. "I think 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, and I was just going for my shots", said Bertens. "I think I learned a lot from past year [a defeat to Petra Kvitova] - for sure, I will go for it". "I was lucky that during the week I had short matches. I'm ready for it", Bertens said of her final with Halep. Bencic could not handle a vicious return to her feet, netted a volley-her first net error in 13-and Halep broke. I wanted to do that, but I was thinking about it while I was playing, which wasn't a good thing.

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"Of course, I'm very happy", the world No. 18 said.

And so the mighty Romanian maintains her assault on reclaiming not just the Madrid title but the No1 ranking. The Swiss opened with a fine touch volley victor, and she edged to 3-0 with a backhand return-of-serve victor. Despite this, Kiki is playing a great week, so we could see some surprise.

Halep and Bertens have split four tour meetings with the Dutchwoman taking the 2018 Cincinnati final.

Halep was chasing her third success in four years in this tournament, but delivered the sort of patchy, disgruntled display that has hindered her before with a trophy in sight.

Bertens joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her Madrid win to reflect on her blistering week in the Spanish capital, the lessons she's learned as she's ascended into the WTA Elite, and how she hopes to cope with the spotlight now that she's become one to beat. I love it also here.

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



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