Madrid Open: Halep beats Bencic to reach final

Halep, currently number three in the world, will reclaim the number one ranking should she win her third title at the Caja Magica.

Belinda Bencic had defeated Simona Halep in their last two matches, but the reigning French Open champion, who lifted the trophy in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, came through in just under two hours on Friday.

Belinda Bencic had defeated Simona Halep in their last two matches, but the reigning French Open champion, who lifted the trophy in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, came through in just under two hours on Friday.   -  Getty Images

Simona Halep closed in on a return to the top of the world rankings after beating Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-0 on Friday to advance to the Madrid Open final.

Halep, currently number three in the world, will reclaim the number one ranking should she win her third title at the Caja Magica.

Bencic had defeated Halep in their last two matches, but the reigning French Open champion, who lifted the trophy in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, came through in just under two hours.

Halep awaits either Dutch seventh seed Kiki Bertens, a finalist in Madrid last year, or 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

READ: Favourites advance to set up packed Madrid last eight

“It's such a nice feeling to be back in the final here. I really enjoy playing in Madrid, it motivates me,” Halep said.

The third seed comfortably claimed the opening set but let her game lapse slightly in the second.

ALSO READ: Djokovic into Madrid semis as Cilic withdraws ill

Bencic, who opened the door for Halep to possibly return to the top of the world ranking with her quarter-final defeat of current number one Naomi Osaka, took a tight second set in a tiebreaker.

But Halep pulled herself together to blitz Bencic in the third as she raced to a victory that increases her chances of returning to the top of the pile.

“I was rushing too much in the second-set tiebreaker,” Halep said.

"I was missing too many easy balls -- I lost control of that tiebreak. In the third I just started over again, I played smarter, opening up the court and being more aggressive.”