Simona Halep beats Belinda Bencic to reach final — Madrid Open

Naomi Osaka Today it was a drama so much drama in my head

She will play either Kiki Bertens or Sloane Stephens - who she beat in last year's French Open final - on Saturday.

Her semi-final this year in Madrid against the unseeded Belinda Bencic, now ranked No18, would be her 21st on clay. "I think I learned a lot from previous year [a defeat to Petra Kvitova] - for sure, I will go for it".

Halep was Madrid Open champion in 2016-17. "I'm sad I didn't win but Kiki deserved to win, she played the better tennis and all week the best tennis, so congratulations".

And now, she will play Simona Halep in the last-four match later today.

"I wanted to play this tournament and I'm going to play Rome, too".

The serve of the Japanese deserted her and she double-faulted to hand Bencic a 4-2 advantage.

She will have a chance to go further on Friday as she plays two-time tournament victor Halep, who booked her last-four-spot with a 7-5, 7-5 win against Australian Ashleigh Barty.

Osaka had her chances though.

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Halep battled back to 4-3 but looked beaten when a series of gutsy retrievals saw Bertens fluff her smash, only for the ball to smack Halep full on the thigh, three feet behind the baseline. What makes her path to that easier is the defeat of Petra Kvitova in another quarter-final. The 27-year-old has yet to lose a set in this tournament. She's 8-2 overall. The Swiss lost in the opening rounds in 2014 and 2015.

Halep, though, was not backing off from her strategy, broke straight back, and they would continue like the proverbial unstoppable force versus immovable object in a wonderful passage of play and high intensity.

It isn't just Madrid bragging rights that are on the line for Halep.

"I am extremely disappointed to have my time in Madrid end in this way".

Halep could have knocked Naomi Osaka off the number-one spot with a triumph in the Spanish capital but instead it was Bertens who made history, becoming the highest-ranked Dutchwoman ever by climbing to world number four. After five deuces, Osaka fired another ace to hold for a 4-2 edge.

Simona Halep came back stronger in the final set, winning the final set 6-0. She began to come forward more, and with considerable success. 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, who had won Madrid twice, suffered her second loss in this final.

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