An overcast day in Madrid was not enough to cloud the ambition of the contenders under the roof of the Manolo Santana Stadium. The two strongest players at the tournament progressed to the championship match, leaving in their wake a string of five victories in proof of their credentials as they make their bids for the crown on Saturday in the Caja Mágica. The fans were treated to a masterclass on the clay and a demonstration of determination from the players as they both dreamt of lifting one of the most coveted trophies on tour.
After one of the best weeks of her career, Kristina Mladenovic stamped her ticket to the Mutua Madrid Open final by defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6(4). The French player, who finds herself in the biggest singles final of her career, continued her stunning form so far this season to place herself one step from the cup in the Caja Mágica.
To overcome 2015’s runner-up, Mladenovic had to deal with an extremely tight match (both players racked up 74 points) and battle for an hour and 43 minutes on the clay before closing the match out. The victory maintains her 100% record (2-0) against Kuznetsova and puts her in her fourth final of the season (Saint Petersburg, Acapulco, Stuttgart, Madrid), more than any other player in 2017.
The French player, who won the doubles at the tournament in 2016 (with Caroline García), will be looking to do the same in the singles competition, something that only Serena Williams has achieved.
Halep back in the Madrid final
Defending champion Simona Halep reached her third Mutua Madrid Open final in the last four years, making the Caja Mágica one of the most special venues in her career. The player from Constanta booked her berth in the decider with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Latvian player Anastasija Sevastova, who held out for 73 minutes.
Under the Manolo Santana Stadium’s retractable roof, the third seed stamped her authority, lifting her hands to the sky after a solid performance. The Romanian dominated the match thanks to some lightning reflexes and sound baseline tennis (she won 50% of the points when receiving), she was ice cold under pressure, stringing together the last six games to come back from 0-3 in the second set and now leads her head-to-head with Sevastova 4-3.
Now, after a week of domination on the clay, Halep’s mission is clear; to reclaim her title in the Caja Mágica, something that, so far, has only been achieved by Serena Williams.