How Can Halep Become Number One after Osaka's Madrid Loss?

WTA Madrid Kiki Bertens downs Sloane Stephens for another Madrid final

Kiki Bertens defeated defending champion Simona Halep 6-4 6-4 in the Madrid Open final to climb to number four in the world rankings.

BBC reports the world number three overcame a second-set fightback from 18th-ranked Bencic to win 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-0.

Bertens needed 1 hour and 28 minutes to beat Halep 6-4, 6-4 in order to win the trophy in the Spanish capital.

Knocked back to 300 after wrist surgery in 2017, she was back fitter and stronger than ever, and arrived in Madrid with the Dubai title and 25 match-wins-plus victory with Roger Federer in the Hopman Cup.

Yet Bencic's momentum completely disappeared in the third as she became the third player in this tournament to be shut out in a set by Halep, who dished out a bagel against Margarita Gasparyan and two in her demolition of Viktoria Kuzmova.

The Belgian saved eight match points to force a decisive tie-break, with Venus unable to shake off an opponent 15 years younger than her.

She will have a chance to go further on Friday as she plays two-time tournament victor Halep, who booked her last-four-spot with a 7-5, 7-5 win against Australian Ashleigh Barty. I wanted to win this match so much because she'd beaten me before.

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"I think she played better tennis tonight", said two-time Madrid victor Halep.

"I was missing too many easy balls - I lost control of that tiebreak". The 27-year-old has failed to go past the fourth round in any of the three Grand Slams since.

Bertens triumphed 6-4, 6-4 against Halep at the Premier Mandatory tournament at La Caja Mágica. Stephens was the first player to win more than four games against Bertens in a single set. Halep bagel Viktoriya Kuzmova in both the sets in the third round of Mutua Madrid Open 2019. After a hold, she broke to clinch the set with another backhand victor to send the match to a third set.

It isn't just Madrid bragging rights that are on the line for Halep.

Simona Halep came back stronger in the final set, winning the final set 6-0. But they had never played on clay. But Halep was playing near ideal tennis, a wonderful combination of big, accurate strikes from the baseline and fast, nimble defence as Bencic tried to replicate her opponent's depth and width through long rallies.

It will come down to a battle between Bertens and her power game against Halep's more polished all-around play.

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