Simona Halep said she felt right at home in Madrid after defending her crown in the Spanish capital. Mladenovic was in her second straight final, and fourth of the year.
The Frenchwoman will take on the reigning champion after overcoming world number nine Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Friday.
Furthermore, should Halep win this tournament, she will join Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova as the only three players to win this tournament twice.
An incredible drop shot from Mladenovic opened up two set points at 6-4 and she evened the match with a booming forehand down the line. Given this result, plus the ability of Simone to play in Madrid, she is a favorite and the upcoming semi-final. However, Halep was improving all the time, and she broke again to level, and saved break point to hold for the lead, 6-5. It was a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory for Mladenovic, who's going to be competing in the biggest final of her career.
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Halep will play Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who defeated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-3. Could she recover enough to handle all the running she would need to do against Halep?
Mladenovic's free-hitting and inventive use of volleys and drop-shots kept Halep off balance, but the world No.8's superior mobility eventually told, as she earned a double break without giving up her own serve to seal a hard-fought crown.
The final lasted two hours and 44 minutes, with both players pushing each other to their limits at times.
When the key moments came, Halep seems more prepared. Can Mladenovic make it three out of three? or will Halep resume normality? Elena Vesnina and Johanna Konta both won their first Premier Mandatory titles against players who already have won them in the past.
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