Former World No 1 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.
Romanian Halep’s shaky serving from her semi-final win the day before carried over at the outset of the final as she produced four double faults and was broken in the opening game.
Halep responded by changing her tactics, drawing the Brazilian into longer rallies to reel off six straight games and sealed the opening set when she blasted a forehand winner, pumping her fist as the supportive crowd roared their approval.
Haddad Maia dominated the second set but got tight in the decider, badly missing a forehand wide to hand Halep a 4-1 lead she would not relinquish.
The two-time Grand Slam champion sealed her ninth WTA 1000 title when Haddad Maia’s service return found the net on match point under sunny skies in the Canadian city.
Halep uses crowd | Haddad Maia’s meteoric rise
The 26-year-old Haddad Maia, who is from Brazil, has never won a tennis tournament at this level before but has rocketed up the WTA Tour’s standings this year.
She upset three seeded players at the National Bank Open: 13th-seeded Leylah Fernandez, current World No 1 Iga Swiatek, and 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova in succession.
A year ago, Haddad Maia was ranked 183rd in the world, but entered this week’s tournament No 24 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 after she fell behind Haddad Maia 3-0 in the opening set and started yelling at herself.
The crowd chanting seemed to rouse Halep. A deep forehand return on set point was just out of the reach of Haddad Maia’s extended racket sealed six consecutive games for Halep as she came back to take the first 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 on two more for a 4-0 lead.
Although Halep won a game back to slow Haddad Maia slightly and make it 4-1, the younger Brazilian immediately reclaimed that momentum to make it 5-1.
Halep claimed another game before Haddad Maia could serve for the second set. Haddad Maia jumped out to a 40-15 advantage and then her serve handcuffed Halep to force a final set.
For the first time in the match, Halep opened a set with a game-winner and took a 2-0 lead when Haddad Maia’s return of her forehand went long. Later, an overhand smash at the net by Halep completed her own unblemished game for a 5-2 lead.
Haddad Maia stayed in the match, winning another game. She made it 5-3 when her high backhanded volley dropped in for a point.
Holding a 40-15 advantage in the ninth game of the third set, Halep clinched her first title in Toronto when Haddad Maia put her return into the net.
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