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Halep clinches 3rd WTA crown

TORONTO, Canada (AFP) — Simona Halep kept control against unpredictable Beatriz Haddad Maia, beating the Brazilian 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to win a third WTA Masters 1000 title in Canada.

The former world No. 1 from Romania added the trophy in Toronto to those she captured in Montreal in 2016 and 2018.

She needed two and a quarter hours to deny the South American lefthander the upset victory.

“Here there are many Romanians and they always come to support me. I’m really happy that I could win also here,” said Halep, who was backed by chants of “Si-mo-na!” from her vocal fans throughout the match.

She shrugged of nine double-faults and broke Haddad Maia five times from 10 chances as she became the third player with at least nine WTA 1000 titles, after Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10).

Halep, who was playing in her ninth final at the elite level as Haddad Maia tackled her first, won her 38th match of the season and claimed her biggest success since the Rome trophy in May, 2020.

After a year outside of the world’s top-10 she is projected to rise to sixth this week with the start of the US Open approaching on 29 August.

“I was there for many years but now I feel like it’s a big deal to be back in top 10,” she said.

“I’m really happy with this performance.”

“When I started the year I was not very confident and I set the goal to be top-10 at the end of the year — and here I am.”

“It’s a very special moment. I will enjoy it. I will give myself credit. I’m just dreaming for more.”

Haddad Maia, enjoying a breakout season that included grasscourt titles at Birmingham and Nottingham in June, had toppled world No. 1 Iga Swiatek on her way to the final.

She struck first with a break on the way to a quick 3-0 lead. But Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion, quickly responded, winning the opening set as she spun off six straight games to claim the opener 6-3, in 50 minutes.

Haddad Maia answered in the opening game of the second set with a break, consolidating through a double break for 4-0 before Halep stopped the rot to hold for 1-4.

The Brazilian delivered a huge serve on set point three games later to square the contest at a set each.

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