WTA Madrid: Simona Halep whiskers past through Roberta Vinci in a final set tiebreak

Title favourite Simona Halep suffered a huge scare against the Italian veteran Roberta Vinci in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open as she was brought to a final set tiebreak, coming from 2-5 down in the final set to triumph eventually.

WTA Madrid: Simona Halep whiskers past through Roberta Vinci in a final set tiebreak
Simona Halep battles through to the third round | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Simona Halep
2 1
Roberta Vinci

A blockbuster second-round match at the Mutua Madrid Open saw Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci competing for a spot in the third round, but the match was not as straightforward as many would have expected it to be as Vinci failed to take her chances and eventually gifted the win to Halep, who is the tournament favourite currently.

Halep clinches four straight games to win the set

Halep had a shaky start to the match, seeing a break point faced against her just right in the opening game as she got herself into deep trouble. However, the Romanian’s serve saved her from the brink as she fended off that break point and narrowly held serve in the end. Excellent forehands were the highlight of Vinci’s game as she highly relied on them to save two break points and earn the tight service hold too, with Halep struggling to return those powerful forehands.

Simona Halep hits a backhand | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Simona Halep hits a backhand | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

Failing to take another break point opportunity, Vinci did not let that affect her as she earned the first comfortable service hold of the day, holding her serve to love with some pinpoint serving. Riding the momentum, the Italian made the first breakthrough in the next game, breaking serve for a 3-2 lead as she looked red hot in form. Unexpectedly, Halep stepped up her game from then on, finding her solid forehand and rattled off four consecutive games to bounce back and seal the first set 6-3 after just 37 minutes, with Vinci being visibly frustrated with herself.

Vinci storms back to level the match

The start of the second set was a direct contrast to the first set as both players began the set with a string of comfortable holds of service, with the first breakthrough only coming in the sixth game. Not as many would have expected, it was Vinci who took the lead as she came up with some world-class offensive tennis to keep Halep at bay, and all of a sudden she looked on course to clinch the second set. It was all Vinci from the fifth game in the second set as she managed to dictate play, eventually closing out the set 6-2 to have their first deciding set in all their meetings.

Roberta Vinci's forehand was working well today, but not at the crucial moments | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Roberta Vinci's forehand was working well today, but not at the crucial moments | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

Vinci loses huge lead and gets pegged back

The decider seemed to be a tight one as two close service holds started the final set, but Vinci went on a roll afterward as she rattled off 12 of the next 13 points to open up a formidable 4-1 lead and looked poised for a huge and confidence-boosting victory. Holding serve for a 5-2 lead, Vinci put herself in an advantageous position to close out the match as she was just one game away from victory. However, Halep regained her composure and stepped up her quality of play as she snatched three consecutive games to level the match all of a sudden and erase Vinci’s lead on the scoreboard.

With Vinci being frustrated with the loss of the huge lead, she was determined to clinch the match in a final set tiebreak and started on a positive note when she won the first point. However, the Italian was left shell-shocked when she saw six straight points go to Halep, who earned five match points as a result. Vinci's forehand was particularly disappointing and seemed to be affected by her emotions as the Romanian eventually closed out the match as she came back from the brink to triumph in just under two hours of play.

Roberta Vinci would rue her missed chances | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Roberta Vinci would rue her missed chances | Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

Tennis