Kiki Bertens rallies past Simona Halep for Cincinnati title

MASON, Ohio -- Kiki Bertens served a 109 mph ace, flipped her racket away, fell to her knees and raised both arms. Moments later, she covered her face for a joyous cry, wiping the tears away with her sweat-soaked, blue wristband.

One point away from another loss, she pulled off her biggest win.

Top-ranked Simona Halep let a match point slip away during the second-set tiebreaker, and Bertens rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory and the Western & Southern Open title on Sunday. It left her as stunned as everyone else.

"I cannot find words for this moment," she said.

Playing her first hard-court final, the Dutch clay-court specialist ended Halep's streak of nine straight wins, including the title at Montreal a week earlier. She had never beaten a top-ranked player, but she wore down Halep at the end of her two draining weeks.

During the week in Cincinnati, Halep had one match suspended overnight by rain and wound up playing twice in one day to reach the semifinals. She controlled the first set on Sunday and had a chance to close it out, leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker.

When that slipped away, she never recovered, playing her worst in the final set: 13 unforced errors that gave Bertens a chance to pull away.

"I had a match [point], so I was there," Halep said. "I didn't take my chance. In the third set, I was empty, and I couldn't fight anymore."

Halep will be ranked No. 1 through the U.S. Open. She fell to 0-3 in Cincinnati finals, finishing as the runner-up in 2015, 2017 and this year.

"I need a little bit of rest because I'm exhausted," Halep said. "But I also take the positive from these two weeks. It's a great confidence [boost]."

Bertens has worked on her hard-court game and her confidence on the surface. In three previous appearances in Cincinnati, she won a total of one match. She became the first unseeded player to win in Cincinnati since Vera Zvonareva in 2006.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.