BBC reports the world number three overcame a second-set fightback from 18th-ranked Bencic to win 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-0. "She deserved to win the match, definitely", she said. But they had never played on clay.
Confidence seemed to flood Halep's game via winning strikes off forehand and backhand down both wings. A big serve set up one match point, which Halep saved with a diving volley.
Yet Bencic's momentum completely disappeared in the third as she became the third player in this tournament to be shut out in a set by Halep, who dished out a bagel against Margarita Gasparyan and two in her demolition of Viktoria Kuzmova. She began to come forward more, and with considerable success.
"People have been telling me if I get to the semis here, I can stay No. 1".
Four games won in a row, including a booming backhand down the line for 5-4, helped Bertens claim the first set before a brilliant lob set up a break in the opening game of the second.
There, Bencic was in full flow, denying Halep any time to assert her baseline game. She returned with a renewed sense of goal, passion, and perspective, and the result has been a meteoric rise through the rankings and transformation into an all-court threat. However, a back-and-forth second went in favour of Bencic, who was making her first semi-final appearance on clay since 2014, the Swiss forcing a decider with a dominant tie-break.
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Halep, though, was not backing off from her strategy, broke straight back, and they would continue like the proverbial unstoppable force versus immovable object in a wonderful passage of play and high intensity.
"I am extremely disappointed to have my time in Madrid end in this way".
Bencic had beaten Halep in Dubai. If Halep was not confident before, she certainly would be now against an opponent perhaps carrying some of the baggage from her comeback effort over Osaka the day before.
Halep will be bidding for her third Madrid title and 19th overall.
"It is normal at this level, I expect tough matches all the time", Halep told reporters.