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    Halep holds off Haddad Maia to win Toronto title

    TORONTO, CANADA (AFP) – Simona Halep kept control against unpredictable Beatriz Haddad Maia on Sunday, beating the Brazilian 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to win a third WTA Masters 1000 title in Canada.

    The former world number one from Romania added the trophy in Toronto to those she captured in Montreal in 2016 and 2018.

    She needed two and a quarter hours to deny the South American lefthander the upset victory.

    “Here there are many Romanians and they always come to support me. I’m really happy that I could win also here,” said Halep, who was backed by chants of “Si-mo-na!” from her vocal fans throughout the match.

    She shrugged of nine double-faults and broke Haddad Maia five times from 10 chances as she became the third player with at least nine WTA 1000 titles, after Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10). Halep, who was playing in her ninth final at the elite level as Haddad Maia tackled her first, won her 38th match of the season and claimed her biggest success since the Rome trophy in May, 2020.

    Simona Halep during the singles final of the National Bank Open. PHOTO: AFP

    After a year outside of the world’s top-10 she is projected to rise to sixth this week with the start of the US Open approaching on August 29. “I was there for many years but now I feel like it’s a big deal to be back in top 10,” she said.

    Haddad Maia, enjoying a breakout season that included grasscourt titles at Birmingham and Nottingham in June, had toppled world number one Iga Swiatek on her way to the final.

    She struck first with a break on the way to a quick 3-0 lead. But Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion, quickly responded, winning the opening set as she spun off six straight games to claim the opener 6-3, in 50 minutes.

    Haddad Maia answered in the opening game of the second set with a break, consolidating through a double break for 4-0 before Halep stopped the rot to hold for 1-4.

    The Brazilian delivered a huge serve on set point three games later to square the contest at a set each.

    But Halep came out ahead after they traded three breaks of serve in the final set, wrapping it up on her second match point as Haddad Maia fired a service return into the net. Haddad Maia said she was at times overwhelmed by the occasion.

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