Defending champion Halep surges into Madrid final

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Defending champion Simona Halep is a win away from retaining her Madrid Open title after a routine semi-final victory over Anastasija Sevastova.

Third seed Halep was the heavy favourite going into the clash, despite the unseeded Sevastova having not dropped a set en route to the last four.

But she had no answer for Halep, who eased to a 6-2 6-3 success in one hour and 13 minutes in the Spanish capital.

Halep's win makes her the first woman to reach the final three times, having progressed to the showpiece in 2014 before winning last year.

The Romanian won five games in a row to take the opening set, but that momentum disappeared for some time in the second, Sevastova's decision to increase her number of drop shots paying off as she forged 3-0 ahead.

However, Halep eventually adjusted and spent more time at the net, retaking the initiative to rattle off six successive games and progress.