Former world number one Simona Halep ended Beatriz Haddad Maia’s dream run in Toronto with a hard-fought 6-3 2-6 6-3 victory to claim her third Canadian Open title on Sunday.
Romania’s Halep’s shaky serve after her semi-final win the day before was carried over to the start of the final as she produced four double faults and was broken in the opener.
Halep responded by changing tactics, drawing the Brazilian into longer rallies to win six straight matches and sealed the opening set when she blasted a forehand winner, pumping her fist as the supporting crowd roared their approval.
Haddad Maia dominated the second set but squeezed in the tiebreak, badly missing a forehand wide to give Halep a 4-1 lead she wouldn’t give up.
The two-time Grand Slam champion sealed her ninth WTA 1000 title when Haddad Maia’s return of serve found the net on match point under sunny skies in the Canadian city.
Halep uses the crowd | The meteoric rise of Haddad Maia
Haddad Maia, 26, from Brazil, has never won a tennis tournament at this level before but has soared in the WTA Tour rankings this year.
She upset three seeded players at the National Bank Open: the 13th seed Leylah Fernandez, the current world number 1 Iga Swiatek and the 14th seed Karolina Pliskova successively.
A year ago, Haddad Maia was ranked 183rd in the world, but he entered the tournament No. 24 this week and will crack the top-20 next week.
Halep, who is back in the top 10 after her success in Montreal, needed the crowd to lift her up after falling behind Haddad Maia 3-0 in the first set and starting to yell at each other.
The chanting of the crowd seemed to wake Halep up. A deep forehand return on set point was just out of Haddad Maia’s extended shove range that sealed six straight games for Halep as she came back to take the opening set.
Haddad Maia seemed to shake off that stunning comeback to start the second set, quickly winning the first two games and fending off Halep in two more for a 4-0 lead.
Although Halep won a game to slow down Haddad Maia slightly and make it 4-1, the young Brazilian immediately picked up that momentum to make it 5-1.
Halep called for another game before Haddad Maia could serve for the second set. Haddad Maia took a 40-15 lead, then her serve cuffed Halep to force a final set.
For the first time in the game, Halep opened a set with a winner and took a 2-0 lead when Haddad Maia’s forehand return went long. Later, a reverse smash at the net by Halep completed his own clean game for a 5-2 lead.
Haddad Maia stayed in the match, winning another match. She made it 5-3 when her high backhand volley fell for a point.
Holding a 40-15 advantage in the ninth game of the third set, Halep clinched her first Toronto title when Haddad Maia returned to the net.
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