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, while Pablo Carreno Busta won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Montreal.
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
Image: Halep will now return into the world’s top 10
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 now.
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.
Image: Halep has won 38 matches so far this season
“I knew that it was going to be a good challenge and a good fight. So it’s been a battle today, and I’m really happy that I could actually be stronger in the important moments,” Halep said.
With the win, the former world No 1 will re-enter the top 10 in the rankings at six.
“I’ve been many years there but now I feel like it’s a big deal to be back in the top 10. I’m really happy with this performance,” she added.
“When I started the year I was not very confident and I set the goal to be, at the end of the year, top 10. And here I am. So it’s a very special moment. I will enjoy it. I will give myself credit. I’m just dreaming for more.”
Carreno Busta wins his first ATP Masters 1000 title
Image: Pablo Carreno Busta celebrates his maiden Masters 1000 title
In Montreal, Pablo Carreno Busta won his first ATP Masters 1000 title with a 3-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Hubert Hurkacz in the final.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be a Masters 1000 winner. It’s the best title of my career for sure and I don’t know how I’m feeling in this moment,” he said.
“I know that during all the week we worked very hard, also the weeks before. It’s very important to be very positive all the time. It’s not my best season this year. I lost some matches that probably other seasons I didn’t lose, but I just tried to continue believing in my team, in myself and in my game.”
During this title-winning campaign he beat both Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini and Carreno Busta will move up nine places in the ATP rankings to 14th.
In the men’s doubles, Great Britain’s Neal Skupski and his partner Wesley Koolhof overcame John Peers and Dan Evans 6-2 4-6 10-6 to win their sixth title together and their second ATP Masters 1000 title of the season.
“I think we’re still learning,” Skupski said. “We’ve been together seven or eight months now, but it’s really going well. I love being on the court with Wes, it’s been a good partnership so far.”
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