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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, May 12, 2017

 
Simona Halep

Simona Halep reeled off six straight games sweeping Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2, 6-3, to roar into her record third Mutua Madrid Open final.

Photo credit: Christopher Levy

Simona Halep regards Madrid as a tournament home away from home.

Halep is playing like a woman intent on establishing an extended residency in the Magic Box.

Watch: Cibulkova Casts Star

The reigning champion reeled off six straight games sweeping Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2, 6-3, to roar into her record third Mutua Madrid Open final in the last four years.



It was Halep’s 11th consecutive victory in the Spanish capital city—she’s surrendered just two sets in that spree—and it sends her into the final against either former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova or 14th-seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, who is playing for her second straight final.

“I feel great,” Halep said. “I feel very happy that I can play my third final here in Madrid. It’s always a pleasure to play here. It’s a special tournament.

“I hope I can do my best to win the title. It’s going to be very tough. I don’t have a preference (on an opponent). I just want to give my best, to be calm, to do everything I can to win the match.”

A sense of calm has carried Halep back to the title match.

Whether it’s the comfort level she feels returning to a tournament where she’s had great success, the Madrid altitude that elicits a high-bounce off the red clay or the fact that Romanian impresario and tournament owner Ion Tiriac has been a big believer in her game, Halep has been streaking in Madrid.


"Many times I said that I feel like home here," Halep said. "Also the crowd is supporting me all the time. The courts fit me. I mean, I feel every ball.

"I feel that I move well. The clay is very good. Everything is nice. I have so many Romanians next to me, even in the lounges and the restaurant, everywhere. People that are doing the courts are all Romanian. That's why I feel like home actually. It's nice. I want to keep doing this in Madrid."

While the altitude presents control issues for some players, Halep believes the high bounce gives her a boost.

“I like the altitude here. I feel that I have more power,” Halep said. “I feel that I can control the game, even if it's altitude. I use more spin for this tournament. Maybe I like also that the ball jumps a little bit higher, and I can take it from here, up to the shoulder. I just feel great here at this tournament. Even if I had two very tough matches, I feel good. I feel confident here on these courts.”




For the 22nd-ranked Sevastova, the second set was a story of missed opportunities. The Latvian, who hit two more winners than her opponent (17 to 15), mixed her topspin forehand with some slice backhands and the drop shot effectively surging out to a 3-0 second-seat lead.

Then Halep turned it up, playing the pivotal points with more patience and care.

Narrowly missing a backhand down the line, a frustrated Sevastova wound up and slammed her Yonex racquet to the court. Scattering a forehand long, Sevastova surrendered her fourth straight game as Halep snatched a 4-3 second-set lead.

Answering each challenge issued, Halep saved another break point in the eighth game lashing a forehand down the line for 5-3.




When Sevastova scattered a backhand long, Halep wrapped up a 73-minute victory to make history as the first woman to reach three Mutua Madrid Open finals.


 

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