Halep, Mladenovic to contest Madrid final
- Author: Regina Holmes May 14, 2017,
May 14, 2017, 2:47
Kristina Mladenovic is through to her first ever Premier Mandatory final - and her fourth final of 2017 - after knocking out close friend and doubles partner Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets at the Mutua Madrid Open. The third seed has made history at the Caja Magica becoming the first woman to reach three finals in the Spanish capital.
Halep had received a warning during the tie-break for kicking her raquet in the direction of a ball boy in frustration.
Mladenovic was nursing a back injury and, while revelling in her victory with the trophy in her hands, Halep paid tribute to her beaten opponent.
The 25-year-old is in fine form ahead of the French Open, which starts towards the end of the month, and she will climb to number four in the world when the rankings are released.
Halep gained her first victory over Mladenovic in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati in 2015 in three tight sets. With her run to the final, she was on 21 wins from of her last 24 matches on clay, with her most recent success coming in Fed Cup wins against GB and her semi run in Stuttgart.
And Halep completely broke Mladenovic's spirit in another epic 14-point game for a 5-2 lead before serving out for the championship to love.
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In the top half of the draw Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat China's Qiang Wang 6-4 7-5, will play Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the quarters after she saw off an injured Angelique Kerber 6-3 5-0 (ret).
"I think that was an wonderful final". She broke Mladenovic in the third game showing to be doing better physically.
With the bit between her teeth she swiftly broke Sevastova again for a double break cushion that seemed a world away from her fingers and thumbs first game, with a comfortable lead.
Both players know each other's game like the back of their hand, and the familiarity showed in the early stages of the match as they opened with a pair of breaks.
Prediction: Halep to retain the title in straight sets.