Halep Grabs Madrid Title
Niall Clarke in Madrid
Simona Halep is your Mutua Madrid champion after a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 thriller from Madrid.
The match started tensely with Halep struggling to hold serve, but at the second time of asking Mladenovic was able to deal the first blow of the match. Halep was able to break back at 2-1 in another long game, but she lost serve again at 3-3 as the Frenchwoman upped her play. Halep reapplied the pressure late on in the set as nerves started to take their toll on Mladenovic. The Romanian would break back as the 14th served for the set, then again to win the set as the momentum quickly shifted in her favour.
Halep would break early in the second, but was immediately pegged back by Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman was seemingly struggling with her back throughout the second set, something she commented on after the semi final, but she kept her side of the scoreboard ticking and the match got tenser and tenser as the set wore on. As Mladenovic served to stay in the set at 6-5, the frustration began to show for Halep as she could not put her opponent away. She threw and kicked her racket, and came close to being defaulted as it almost struck an on rushing ball boy. Mladenovic held and the set went to a tiebreak. The 23-year-old took control of a tense tiebreaker and eventually went on to level the match.
It seemed like Mladenovic had used her energy to level the match, and Halep wrestled back control early in the third with a break of serve. The Frenchwoman struggled to create anything on the Halep serve, and after another long game at 4-2, the defending champion broke again to put an end to any doubt. Halep would successfully serve the match out to win her second Madrid Open title.
Mladenovic struggled with her lower back during the match, but she does not make it an excuse for her defeat.
“I think that was an amazing final.” Mladenovic said in her post match press conference.
“I don’t really want to talk about my lower back. Obviously I tried not to show anything. You guys are seeing pretty much everything, I guess.”
“Of course, it happened yesterday. I had some tensions, some pain here and there. I was trying not to show anything, not to think about it. I tried to fight over it, continue to enjoy and fight till the end, give everything I had.”
“Honestly, we had an amazing final, and I don’t want to put any comments on my lower back saying that was the reason why I couldn’t make it till the end and win that match.”
“I think, yeah, honestly this final was quite amazing. That’s the feeling I have, because what we did today with Simona on the court, battling for two hours and a half in the last match of the tournament, knowing we for sure had both of us a long and tiring tournament to reach the final, and somehow to push even more to produce probably the best tennis from both of us for the entire tournament.”
Madrid is becoming a happy hunting ground for Halep. She Is now statistically the greatest player in the tournament’s history, winning twice and being a runner up. It is a title win that will serve as a huge boost to her chances at Roland Garros.
“I feel great that I could defend this title.” Halep said post match.
“It means a lot because it’s very big and gives me confidence for the bigger tournaments. I feel that actually I have the game to win big tournaments. I have just to be consistent mentally. Today I struggled a little bit.”
“But in the end, I was stronger. I was better mentally. I’m proud actually that I could stay there focused.It means a lot. It gives me, like, a little bit of relax time. I started pretty bad this year. Now I’m back with the confidence.”
“I just want to enjoy this moment. I’m not thinking about the next tournaments yet. I don’t know how is going to be in the future, the next tournaments, but I feel pretty confident now that I could win so many good matches.”
“The final was great. She played unbelievable.”