Scintillating Halep too good for Cibulkova in Madrid


Simona Halep won the second WTA Premier Mandatory title of her career with a classy 6-2 6-4 beating of Dominika Cibulkova in the Madrid Open final.

World number seven Halep, a runner-up at the clay-court event in 2014, had dropped just one set throughout the tournament and had steamrollered Sam Stosur in the semi-finals.

And the sixth seed was a class above Cibulkova, who became the lowest-ranked player at 38 to reach a Premier Mandatory final, in the Spanish capital.

Cibulkova - who held a 3-1 head-to-head record over Halep before the final - had spent over nine hours and 40 minutes on court this week, and fatigue was perhaps a reason for her slow opening.

Halep earned the break at the first opportunity with some confident hitting from the baseline and solid defence.

The Romanian continued to mix up her game and was pounding the ball with exquisite accuracy, and Cibulkova put a backhand into the net to gift Halep a double-break 4-1 lead.

Halep was proving unflappable and even when 0-40 down at 5-2 she remained composed and reeled off five effortless points to clinch the opening set.

Cibulkova, who won her only games in the first set to love, was in trouble again at the start of the second and Halep's punishing accuracy once again earned her a break advantage.

As the set wore on Cibulkova began to land more shots in the corners, but Halep's stunning defence kept her on the front foot.

Halep was forced to serve out for the win and she started by winning a gruelling point that left Cibulkova exhausted, but it was more straightforward on match point as a huge ace secured a 12th WTA Tour title.

In a perhaps positive omen for Halep, the last time she went to the showpiece in Madrid in 2014 she went on to reach the French Open final.