Madrid, May 14 (IANS) Romania’s Simona Halep successfully defended her Madrid Open title by downing France’s Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-7 (5-7) and 6-2, in a hard-fought final.

In her third final in this premier mandatory event on Saturday(finalist in 2014, champion in 2016), Halep took her first title this year and the 15th in her career while becoming the second player to win the Madrid Open two years in a row. America’s Serena Williams achieved that feat in 2012 and 2013, reports Efe.

Only in the 2014 final, when Maria Sharapova defeated Halep, has the winner taken the game in three sets.

Mladenovic came to Madrid after making it to the final in Stuttgart. The French player got off to a headstart in the first set 5-4, but lost it after seeming to suffer from a back injury.

Mladenovic used her variety and all-court game to take the second set 6-7, but got worn down by Halep’s relentless baseline hitting in the third set, which the Romanian took 6-2.

After securing the title, Halep said, “I feel great that I could defend this title. It means a lot because it’s very big and gives me confidence for the bigger tournaments.

“I feel that actually I have the game to win big tournaments. I have just to be consistent mentally. I started pretty bad this year. Now I’m back with the confidence.”

The winner was rewarded with a cheque for $1.14 million while the runner-up took home $559,339.

(With Inputs from IANS) 

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