Simona Halep is one win away from returning the the No.1 spot in the WTA Rankings. She will play Kiki Bertens in the final of Madrid, hoping to take her fourth title in five years at one of her favourite events on the tour. Bertens was the losing finalist last year but did take Petra Kvitova three sets before doing so.
Bertens, while still vulnerable to a surprise loss, has shown that she can make deep runs in the bigger tournaments more frequently now. It has been an outstanding week for her with five straight sets victories to get that far, including avenging her loss to Kvitova and a somewhat tougher victory over Sloane Stephens in the semi finals. Things could have been much different for Bertens had she failed to save all three set points when down 4-5 in the second set. “I think my serve helped me a lot already this year,” Bertens said on that moment. “Today, again, I think I saved a lot of breakpoints, also the set points with my serve, so of course that helps a lot with the confidence.”
Halep did lose a set in the semi final with Belinda Bencic but the result never really seemed in doubt as she advanced 6-2 6-7 6-0, picking up her first win over Bencic since 2014. It was an aggressive performance from the Romanian, who hit 29 winners to just 23 unforced errors. “It is normal at this level, I expect tough matches all the time,” Halep said after the match. “I was lucky that during the week I had short matches. But always when I step on the court I’m ready for a three-hour match, so I’m okay.”
While the attention will be on Halep and a potential return to the No.1, a win would also break new ground for Bertens. She would move to No.4 in the rankings, a career high.
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets