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Kiki Bertens rallies from match point to beat top-seeded Simona Halep

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Kiki Bertens celebrates after defeating Simona Halep during the finals at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Sunday in Mason, Ohio.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Kiki Bertens served a 109-mph ace, flipped her racket away, fell to her knees and raised both arms. Moments later, she covered her face for a joyous cry, wiping the tears away with her sweat-soaked blue wristband.

One point away from another loss, she had pulled off her biggest win.

Top-ranked Simona Halep let a match point slip away during the second-set tiebreaker, and Bertens rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory and the Western & Southern Open title on Sunday that left her as stunned as everyone else.

“I cannot find words for this moment,” she said.

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Playing her first hard-court final, the Dutch clay-court specialist ended Halep’s streak of nine straight wins, including the title at Montreal a week earlier. She’d never beaten a top-ranked player, but wore down Halep at the end of her two draining weeks.

During the week near Cincinnati, Halep had one match suspended overnight by rain and wound up playing twice in one day to reach the semifinals. She controlled the first set on Sunday and had a chance to close it out, leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker.

When that slipped away, she never recovered, playing her worst in the final set — 13 unforced errors that gave Bertens a chance to pull away.

“I am a little bit tired,” she said.

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Halep will be ranked No. 1 through the U.S. Open. She fell to 0-3 in Western & Southern Open finals, finishing as the runner-up in 2015 and each of the last two years.

Bertens has worked on her hard-court game and her confidence on the surface. In three previous appearances at the Western & Southern Open, she won a total of one match. She became the first unseeded player to win the tournament since Vera Zvonareva in 2006.

In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic was looking for a breakthrough win against nemesis Roger Federer. Djokovic was 0-5 at the tournament, the only ATP Masters 1000 event he hasn’t won. He’d become the first to claim all nine.

Federer has won the tournament an unmatched seven times, going 7 for 7 in the finals. He’s beaten Djokovic three times for the Rookwood pottery trophy.


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