Simona Halep has seven WTA titles to her name, but had never played a Premier Mandatory final, the achievement she made today by ousting Petra Kvitova 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2 in the semis of the Mutua Madrid Open. Her last obstacle to the big title will be Maria Sharapova, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-4.
After eliminating Ana Ivanovic in the previous round, Halep took out another Grand Slam champion Kvitova, despite trailing a set and 3-1. The Romanian world No.5 recovered by winning 16 of the next 18 points and eight straight games, while Kvitova finished the match with a total of 66 unforced errors and without even earning a break point in the decider.
In the second semifinal, Sharapova didn't allow Radwanska's surge of fourth successive games to lead 4-3 from 0-3 in the second set to take over and triumphed for her second Mutua Madrid Open final.
Sharapova has won both her career meetings with Halep, but they were in 2012 when the Romanian was not a hot name in women's tennis and was ranked 50th/47th. Nevertheless, I expect Masha to slide to another claycourt title. (photos: Jimmie48)