MADRID - Maria Sharapova fought back to defeat Simona Halep 1-6 6-2 6-3 yesterday to win her second clay title of the season at the Madrid Open.
The Russian eighth seed, who also claimed a third straight victory last month in Stuttgart, improved to 3-0 over Romanian fourth seed Halep and 16-4 at the event where she lost the final a year ago to Serena Williams.
Sharapova will rise to seventh in the rankings as a result of her 31st career trophy. Eight of her last 10 titles have come on clay, but this is the first time she has triumphed in the Spanish capital.
The four-time grand slam winner was looking dismayed after going down in the opener in just 29 minutes to her Romanian opponent who has made a huge improvement since appearing as a wild card at the same event in 2013.
"I came so close last year. I had a tough 2013 (due to a shoulder injury). I didn't have a great first set, so I really had to work to win."
The victory was her ninth career trophy on clay.
Sharapova has now won 11 straight matches as she heads to Rome for next week's last event prior to the French Open, which starts on May 25.
In the men's competition Rafael Nadal won his fourth Madrid Masters title when Kei Nishikori was forced to quit their final with a back injury having had the Spaniard on the back foot.
Japanese 10th seed Nishikori had taken the first set 6-2 and led 4-2 in the second before the back pain which had plagued him all week forced him to retire.