Simona Halep breezes past Dominika Cibulkova to win Madrid Open title
Romania’s Simona Halep sealed her first title in 14 months with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Dominika Cibulkova to claim the Madrid Open on Saturday.
Halep stormed through the first set in 30 minutes and needed just one break in the first game of the second to win her first tournament since Indian Wells last year.
Victory will move Halep up from seventh to fifth in the world when the latest rankings are released on Monday while victory is also a timely boost ahead of the French Open which starts in two weeks.
“The most important thing is that I played good tennis here. My best actually, my best level,” Halep said.
“It was amazing on court. I just want to keep that feeling for long time.”
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After an inconsistent season, Halep looked close to the form that made her world No 2 last year and made the most of a collapsing field as she didn’t have to face a top 10 player on her route to the title.
“Day-by-day I played better tennis. That helped me a lot to improve mentally and to be more confident,” she said.
“That’s why maybe I could win almost in two sets all the matches.”
At No 38 in the world, Cibulkova was the lowest player to reach a premier mandatory WTA tournament in seven years and she was blown away early on by the consistency and depth of Halep’s groundstrokes.
However, the Slovakian was keen to look on the bright side of a week that saw her rise to 26 in the world having been as low as 66 in February.
“I don’t want this loss to get into the great feelings of this week,” Cibulkova said.
“I just want to get some rest and prepare for Roland Garros because my game on clay really came together.
“I didn’t get into Rome because there was my old ranking — 56 before I won Katowice — so I stayed last out and I withdraw from qualifying.”
Halep won seven of the first eight points on her way to opening up a 5-1 lead.
The 2014 French Open finalist then had to fend off three break points on her way to sealing the set 6-2, but immediately took control of the second by breaking in the opening game.
Cibulkova had her chance to break back in a marathon 16-point fourth game, but Halep held on and then served out convincingly for the match in style with an ace for her 12th career title.
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Updated: May 8, 2016 04:00 AM