World no. 3 and a former Madrid champion Simona Halep is through to the 35th WTA final, defeating Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-7, 6-0 in an hour and 57 minutes. This was the 25th win in Madrid in the last 28 matches for the Romanian and she is now one triumph away from becoming world no.
1 again if she beats Sloane Stephens or Kiki Bertens in the final on Saturday. Belinda was on the verge of defeat against Naomi Osaka yesterday before she performed a great escape for one of her best results on clay, giving her best to overcome a slow start today before falling in the deciding set when she ran out of gas.
Serving at 71%, Simona delivered solid numbers behind the initial shot, fending off three out of six break points and keeping the pressure on the Swiss who gave serve away eight times from 13 opportunities offered to the Romanian.
They had a similar number of winners (Bencic was in front before the deciding set) and Halep made fewer errors, taming her shots nicely and saving energy for the final set after a great run in Madrid this week that even brought a double bagel to her tally.
Simona made a strong start, breaking in the opening game of the match and grabbing 16 of the last 20 points at 2-2 for a 6-2, dictating the pace of the rallied and standing as a wall ready to return every shot from Bencic with even higher velocity.
They traded four breaks in the first five games of the second set and Belinda was prepared to fight in the remaining games and stay in contention, wasting a set point at 6-5 and clinching the tie break 7-2 to prolong the clash and send it into a decider.
There, Simona took charge and wrapped the things up in less than 30 minutes, losing only 12 points in six games and delivering a bagel for the best possible finish and the place in the title match.