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Maria Sharapova fights back to beat Simona Halep in Madrid final

Russia’s Maria Sharapova recovered from a nervous start to beat Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep and win her first Madrid Open title.

The former world number one battled back to win 1-6 6-2 6-3 and extend her unbeaten run on clay to 11 matches.

Eighth seed Sharapova, 27, has only lost three times on clay since 2011 – all three defeats coming against world number one Serena Williams.

Halep was playing in her first final at one of the WTA’s Premier tournaments.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable 12 months in which she has risen from outside the world’s top 50 to number five in the rankings, winning seven titles along the way.

She looked capable of capturing the biggest prize of her career after dominating the first set, but Sharapova wrestled the initiative away from the Romanian early in the second.

A brilliant backhand winner from out wide gave Sharapova the decisive break at 3-1 in the decider and she closed out the win with a heavy forehand after one hour and 57 minutes.

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