Simona Halep d Petra Kvitova 67(4) 63 62
Petra Kvitova (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Simona Halep beat her second Grand Slam champion in as many days as she fought past Petra Kvitova to book her place in the Mutua Madrid Open final. (Bold)
Prior to this this year, Halep has never won a main draw match in Madrid, but a lot has changed since this time last year. For a start she has amassed seven WTA titles in a year, and Slam pedigree has meant nothing to her as she has despatched Wimbledon 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki, 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and now 2011 Madrid and Wimbledon champion Kvitova.
The Czech certainly started out the brighter though, as perhaps an extra day without play left her a little fresher, as she went a set and 3-1 up. But as we have seen in the past, Halep just makes adjustments as she goes, and she knew the key was to keep going.
“I just wanted to stay relaxed, more relaxed, but I came back and I wasn't too good because she had 3‑1. I just started to play more angles, more higher the ball, and just fighting for every point.”
Kvitova admitted that it had been tough, but after an opening round exit at Stuttgart this had been a good week on the clay for her.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match," Kvitova said. "She beat me in the New Haven final, so I was looking forward to revenge. It was a long match and was a good fight throughout. She was just better in the end, but it was still a good match for me."
Should Halep win the title on Sunday, she will overtake the injured Victoria Azarenka and take the No. 4 slot and despite her great run of form over the past year on all surfaces, she still feels that she is not ready to make that Slam breakthrough.
“I can say that on the Grand Slam I can play with the same players like here, but I still think that Grand Slam, it's too much for me now. But, you know, I have just to take my time and just take the Grand Slam like normal tournament.”
She will face four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova for the title on Sunday, scheduled on Manolo Santana Court, not before 4:30pm (3:30pm BST).
Simona Halep (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Since Halep’s breakthrough year in 2013, she comes into this meeting in a tournament where she has had the support of Ion Tiriac, and from this point last year, her season took off, including gaining her one win over Kvitova in New Haven to claim the title.
Kvitova at times has struggled for consistency whereas Halep seems to have a much better understanding of court smarts – she is not afraid to change her tactics if she finds they are not working, and it has pulled through some tough matches.
Maria Sharapova d Agnieszka Radwanska 61 64
Agnieszka Radwanska (DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova is just one win away from lifting the title that eluded her last year, as she stormed past Agnieszka Radwanska to book her place in the Mutua Madrid Open final. (Bold)
Against a 9-2 head to head lead and a 3-0 record on clay, it was always going to be an uphill task for Radwanska, who struggled to get anywhere with Sharapova in the previous tournament in Stuttgart.
Sharapova was able to stifle Radwanska in much the same way again, taking advantage of a weak Radwanska serve, and cutting Radwanska’s time on the ball.
Both had hard matches coming into this semi-final – Sharapova had to come from behind in the deciding set against Christina McHale and from a set down to Li Na. Radwanska was also pushed to three sets twice (against Roberta Vinci and Caroline Garcia).
Sharapova stormed to a 6-1 3-0 lead before Radwanska found some measure of her form, and ran through four games on the bounce. But Sharapova broke back, held to love with two “take-that” aces, and a final break to rub salt in the wound as she rounded out a 6-1 6-4 victory.
Radwanska misses a chance to make the final of the only Premier Mandatory where she has failed to make that stage.
"I couldn't really do much in the first set," she said. "She was hitting the ball very well, very deep. She really pushed me back. In the second set I played better, but she really hit good shots in the important moments."
Sharapova knew her game plan had been key for this match:
“I was the one that was being aggressive and hitting deep and taking advantage early in the rally, not letting myself getting really long rallies with her. So instead of just making those errors like I did for those four games, I tried to go to be a bit more consistent as well.”
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