WTA Madrid: Simona Halep progresses to third final in four years

After beating the same opponent two weeks ago in Stuttgart, Simona Halep replicated the win as she outclassed Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets at the semi-final stage of the Mutua Madrid Open, leaving the Romanian just one win away from successfully defending her title.

WTA Madrid: Simona Halep progresses to third final in four years
Simona Halep moves on to the final | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Simona Halep
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Anastasija Sevastova

The first WTA semifinal of the Mutua Madrid Open saw Simona Halep and Anastasija Sevastova face off for a place in the final, with the huge favorite and higher-ranked player prevailing in straight sets to become the first player to reach the final here in Madrid for a total of three times.

Halep steals the first set

It was a tight start to the match as Sevastova narrowly held her serve to 30 in the opening game, starting on a positive note. The Latvian then had a look for the best start possible as she managed to get to 30-30 in her first return game after Halep threw in two double faults to get herself in deep trouble. Nevertheless, the Romanian’s backhand managed to save her from the brink, sealing her opening service game. The first break point of the match came soon as unforced errors cost Sevastova greatly, but some great variety of shots provided her with the ability to fend off the break point and hold her serve in a tight game.

Simona Halep hits a forehand | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Simona Halep hits a forehand | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Making the first breakthrough of the match, Halep was unexpectedly the one who broke serve first as Sevastova started to make a huge amount of unforced errors, allowing the Romanian to open up a 3-2 lead. Holding her serve comfortably, Halep consolidated the break to have a two-game advantage. With the momentum running in her, the Top 10 player prevailed in almost every long rally and was dealing well with the deadly Sevastova drop shots, eventually taking the first set 6-2 after just 36 minutes.

Halep overcomes early deficit to prevail

Similar to the first set, Sevastova had a great start to the second set as she comfortably held her serve to love in the opening game. With her crafty game which is full of variety, the Latvian managed to constantly trouble Halep at the baseline and started to move her around, which was finally effective after she earned her first break point and converting it to take the early lead in the second set.

Anastasija Sevastova missed many opportunities today | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Anastasija Sevastova missed many opportunities today | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

The excellent run continued for Sevastova when she consolidated the break easily and Halep soon saw herself down 0-3 on the scoreboard, calling coach Darren Cahill down for a mid-match chat at the changeover. The talk proved to be very effective as Halep bounced straight back from the huge deficit, holding her serve without any problems before breaking straight back with some solid offensive tennis.

Despite conceding two break point opportunities, Halep managed to save both of them with some strong play and continued to cause many problems for Sevastova, who lost three straight games. The miss proved to be costly as the Latvian was broken immediately in the next game after she lost a game point and only to see her opponent making full use of her opportunities.

Simona Halep celebrates her win | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Simona Halep celebrates her win | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

Her break point conversion rate in the last few games worsened as Sevastova was 0/3 on break points in two successive return games, gifting Halep the tight service hold and placing her just one game away from victory. Unable to deal with the pressure while serving to stay in the set, Sevastova’s dream run ended as Halep won her sixth straight game, serving a virtual bagel, to prevail in just exactly 75 minutes.