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Bertens stuns Halep for Madrid title

Bertens stuns Halep for Madrid title

Top seed Naomi Osaka has suffered a critical defeat at the hands of Belinda Bencic, the Swiss star recording a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open. The match finished 6-2, 6-7, 6-0 and Halep will face either eighth seed Sloane Stephens or the seventh seed Kiki Bertens in the final.

At this highly prestigious women's tournament, one of the four Premier Mandatory events in the calendar, world No3 Simona Halep had won twice from three finals, and was targeting her 25th match-win in the Spanish capital.

Friday's victory over Bencic avenged two consecutive defeats to the Swiss.

Bertens started the second set strong, breaking Halep in the first game for the early lead.

Bencic, a former top 10 player before injury struck several seasons ago, is now back in the top 20 and determined to lift her standing further.

The Belgian saved eight match points to force a decisive tie-break, with Venus unable to shake off an opponent 15 years younger than her.

Twice Madrid victor Halep broke the unseeded Bencic in the first game of the first set, the Swiss's errant backhand flying out, but she broke back to tie at 2-2.

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That she also had two wins from three meetings over Halep gave still more weight to her challenge of reaching the final, the most recent of them a three-set thriller in Dubai.

Netherlands' Kiki Bertens celebrates on the podium after winning the WTA Madrid Open final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2019.

In the men's tournament, Novak Djokovic will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the title after the 20-year-old Greek stunned Rafael Nadal on Saturday to win a thrilling semifinal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 on his fourth match point.

"I think I played very solid today", Bertens said. It her the first win in three times against Stephens, last year's French Open finalist. Bertens has a WTA-best 219 aces in 2019.

On this evidence, she will be a serious contender at the French Open later this month, where Bertens reached the semi-finals in 2016 only to be stopped by Serena Williams. Unhappy with her tennis and with life on the tour, Bertens spent the off-season taking stock on what she wanted out of her career.

Halep's rally fell short, however, as Bertens stayed calm and continued to punish her on serve.