Sharapova, Nadal win Madrid titles

Maria Sharapova battles past fifth seeded Simona Halep while Japan's Kei Nishikori retires to hand Rafael Nadal win.

    Eighth seed Sharapova, 27, has only lost three times on clay since 2011 [Getty Images]
    Eighth seed Sharapova, 27, has only lost three times on clay since 2011 [Getty Images]

    Maria Sharapova bounced back from a poor start to defeat Simona Halep 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 and win the Madrid Open title.

    Sharapova, who lost to Serena Williams in last year's final, crumbled in the opening set when she held her serve just once.

    But Halep's serve dipped in the second set, and Sharapova started hitting pinpoint ground strokes that kept the Romanian running. The ninth-ranked Russian converted both her break points in the set to even the match.

    Sharapova then pulled away in the deciding set with an early break to follow up her triumph in Stuttgart with a maiden title in Madrid.

    Since the 2011 French Open, Sharapova has a 47-3 record on clay, with all three defeats coming to Williams.

    "I don't know how I pulled it off,'' Sharapova said after winning her 32nd career title. "I came close last year, and I didn't have a great first set today, but I knew it wasn't over until the last point was played.''

    Sharapova looked dejected midway through the first set as she hit four double-faults, but she seemed to regain her focus at the start of the second.

    As Sharapova celebrated the win, Halep slumped in her chair dejectedly despite having reached her first Masters final.

    Nadal keeps dominating

    Rafa Nadal won a second successive Madrid Open title when Kei Nishikori was forced to retire in the third set of the final with an apparent back injury.

    Japanese 10th seed Nishikori made a blistering start on Nadal's favoured clay to win the first set 6-2 and was a break up in the second before the Spanish world number one hit back to win it 6-4 and force a decider.

    In a tremendously disappointing finish to an entertaining encounter, Nishikori was struck down by what appeared to be a back spasm and despite treatment had to retire with Nadal leading 3-0 in the third set.


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