Defending champion Simona Halep faced off against Kristina Mladenovic in the 2017 Madrid Open final.

The Setting

Entering the 2017 season as the fourth-ranked player in the world, Simona Halep struggled at the beginning of the year, which included a first-round loss at the Australian Open. Opening her clay-court campaign in Stuttgart, she won multiple matches at an event for only the second time that year.

Conversely, Kristina Mladenovic of France was off to the best start of her career, winning her first singles title in St. Petersburg, Russia, and reaching two other finals, including one in Stuttgart.p[;

At the Madrid Open, both players advanced to the championship match: Halep, the 2016 victor, was forced to a third set in two of her first three matches before getting on a roll. Mladenovic, meanwhile, eked out a third-set tiebreak win in the second round before taking the rest of her matches in straight sets.

The Final

Coming into the match with a 1-3 record against the Frenchwoman—which included a loss in their most recent match in Indian Wells a couple of months earlier—Halep was pushed early in the opening set. Mladenovic served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken, and Halep—in the midst of a rally—would go on to take the next two games to clinch the opener.

With momentum on her side, Halep went up 2-0 early in the second before Mladenovic halted her charge to get back on serve. The two battled on, setting themselves up for a tiebreak and in the mini-frame, Mladenovic gained an early advantage—one she rode out to a 7-5 win to send the match into a decider.

Once again, Halep got out to an early lead in a set, but this time she did not relinquish it as she quickly went up 3-1. Another break of serve later gave the Romanian a 5-2 lead. Serving for the match, Halep held at love to win her first title of the year.

Notable Numbers

1

With the win, Halep defended a title for the first time in her career.

4

Mladenovic was contesting her fourth final of the year, with all of them under different playing conditions. She won her first career title on an indoor hard court in St. Petersburg, Russia, then reached finals in Acapulco (outdoor hard) and Stuttgart (indoor clay).

5

Halep’s first title of the year marked the fifth consecutive season she clinched at least one tournament triumph.