It was a tantalising clash for the Madrid title with sixth seed Simona Halep up against Dominika Cibulkova. It had a tough match written all over for the Romanian seeing as Cibulkova led the head-to-head 3-1. Halep meanwhile, was looking for her first Madrid title having come up short in 2014 where she lost to eventual winner Maria Sharapova.
It was an explosive start by Halep who was fully engaged to take the first set. Cibulkova went down a break in the second set but continued fighting to make it difficult for the Romanian. Halep eventually proved too strong as she finished off the victory in straight sets to clinch her first title of the year.
Halep in control right from the start
Right from the beginning, Halep put pressure on the Cibulkova serve and was rewarded with an immediate break. She kept up the confident start unleashing winners to take a 2-0 lead. Cibulkova was not going anywhere though, as she hung on to win her service game to stay in the set, trailing 1-2.
The Slovak had settled in and was reading the Halep serve better even mixing it up with drop shots to unsettle the Romanian. Halep though, remained tough to maintain her lead and continued her impressive start by earning another break chance in the fifth game. Her powerful return troubling Cibulkova who could only help into the net as Halep went up 4-1.
As the Romanian extended her lead to 5-1, Cibulkova held her game to love to force Halep to serve for the set. Dropping just five points prior, Halep went down 0-40 in a poor game. Some important serves and well placed shots helped the Romanian save all three break points. And before long, Halep closed out it out 6-2.
Cibulkova threatens but Halep remains strong
A focused Halep picked up where she left off, finishing off short balls with ease to get herself triple break point opportunity. Cibulkova was made to work hard as she saved two of those before eventually going down an early break against an aggressive Halep. The match was truly heating up now with some great exchanges as both were relentlessly retrieving the balls. The Romanian was able to see off the Slovak's efforts to hold for 2-0.
Halep seemed to be in a shade of trouble down 0-30 when serving for a 3-1 lead. She managed to draw level but the following shot saw the ball hit her racket frame and rocket skywards, handing Cibulkova a break back point. Unfortunately for the Slovak, she narrowly missed her shot and it went to deuce. The Romanian was made to work hard for her service game with Cibulkova pushing her to five deuces before Halep eventually held.
Cibulkova kept the match alive still trailing by that one break as she bravely held for 2-3. Surviving a mammoth second game, it was a much smoother hold for Halep who closed out for 4-2. Both players tightened up their serve, holding their games with relative ease and soon enough, Halep was serving for the match at 5-4. A return from Cibulkova went long and it handed the Romanian a couple of championship points. And she finished it off in style with an ace to seal a convincing straight sets victory.
“It’s very special to me,” said Halep, during the trophy ceremony, with her first Madrid title to best her runner-up finish in 2014. The Madrid champion capped off a good week with the lost of just one set in the entire tournament.