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Halep reaches final, Djokovic advances after Cilic pulls out

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Novak Djokovic lifts his arms to the sky

Bertens also led 25 winners to Halep's 9 en route to her second straight big win over the Romanian in the final after Cincinnati last summer.

That was the second time Bertens beat Halep in a WTA final following her at the Western & Southern Open in the U.S. in August 2018. Bertens lost to Kvitova in last year's final.

Bertens was in control throughout the first set and demonstrated fighting spirit that should serve her well in the final to come from a break down in the second, winning five of the next six games to progress 6-2 7-5.

Djokovic had battled against Austria's Dominic Thiem to win 7-6, 7-6 and progress in the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour Masters 1000 event.

The Belgian saved eight match points to force a decisive tie-break, with Venus unable to shake off an opponent 15 years younger than her.

Halep is the reigning champion at Roland Garros but has struggled at major tournaments since her debut victory past year. "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".

The Madrid Open final will see Kiki Bertens look to go one better than a year ago when she faces Simona Halep, eyeing a return to number one.

Halep won virtually all of the long rallies, but Bencic reacted well at the start of the second set, playing more aggressively. The Swiss lost in the opening rounds in 2014 and 2015. She returned with a renewed sense of objective, passion, and perspective, and the result has been a meteoric rise through the rankings and transformation into an all-court threat.

Bertens missed out again but earned a third championship point when Halep narrowly missed the baseline and she finally seized her ninth WTA title when the world number two hit a backhand out.

"I played like a stupid today, everything that she liked", she added.

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

They've split two clay matches.

Two weeks away from defending her French Open title, Halep is rounding into Grand Slam form.

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.

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