It was second time lucky for Kiki Bertens who, in her second consecutive final in Madrid, made the Mutua Madrid Open title hers after winning a thrilling final against the tournament’s two-time champion, Romania’s Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and twenty-seven minutes of play.
The match started later than expected (18:30) as the first men’s semi-final between Djokovic and Thiem ran over. But it was well worth the wait. Despite the wind that was blowing through the Caja Mágica, the two players provided a clash that lived up to all expectations.
Halep, with more experience in big finals, appeared less nervous than Bertens. The Dutchwoman conceded the first break point in the fourth game of the match. Despite the fact that Bertens was very happy yesterday with the high number a break points she saved during the tournament, this time the Romanian was 100% effective (3-1), thanks to a stunning shot down the line that had the crowds in the Manolo Santana Stadium on their feet.
But Bertens soon managed to calm the initial nerves of playing a match of this stature in the Caja Mágica. She reacted with the same stunning tennis that brought her to this final round in Madrid without losing a single set. Halep gave her all but she occasionally looked outdone by the winners that were arriving from the other side of the net.
By now, the Dutch player was playing her best tennis of the whole week and after breaking Halep three times on the trot (4-5), she set about serving to take the lead in the match. The world number 3 only managed to get one point on the return, giving Bertens the first set of the final (4-6).
The start of the second was no better for the two-time Madrid champion. She lost her service for the fourth time and Bertens consolidated the break on her own serve (0-2). In the next game, Halep was not about to let another service game escape her, digging deep to produce some outstanding winners and finally open her account in the second set (1-2).
This gave Halep renewed confidence in her tennis, and she began playing more freely, as she had earlier in the match. Like in the first set, she managed to break Bertens in the fourth game, this time to equal the set (2-2). But Bertens had no intention of letting a second chance to rein in Madrid escape her.
Solid on her serve, and pouncing on any opportunities Halep offered with hers, the tournament’s seventh seed managed to pull away in the second set (2-4). Halep resisted, determined to not only win her third Madrid crown, but also to top the WTA ranking on Monday.
But Berten’s desire to lift the biggest title of her career at 27 years of age proved stronger. Not only desire, also fortune. At 3-4 and after a spectacular point, Bertens hit a shot at the net with the frame of her racquet, the shot was sailing over the baseline, but Halep was unable to escape the ball and lost the point when it struck her before the ground (3-5). The first match point was saved by Halep with a spectacular volley. The second was wasted by Bertens with an unforced error. On the third though, she produced a delightful drop shot to close out the match (3-6).
With this win, Kiki Bertens has redeemed herself from the final she lost last year against Petra Kvitova and added her name to the tournament’s list of winners. The Dutch player ends a dream week, in which she has defeated three of the top eight players in the world (Kvitova, Halep and Stephens) without losing a single set. Bertens triumph in Madrid will also propel her to 4th in the world ranking on Monday, her highest ever position.