Bertens comes back from the brink to deny Halep Cincinnati title
Kiki Bertens saved a match point before coming from a set down to beat a tired Simona Halep and claim the biggest title of her career at the Cincinnati Masters.
Halep was on the brink of sealing back-to-back tournament wins after her Rogers Cup triumph in Montreal last weekend, but the unseeded Bertens fought back to beat the world number one 2-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-2.
Top seed Halep had won 18 of her last 19 matches, stretching back to her maiden grand slam success at the French Open, and looked set to maintain her momentum before fading in the heat on Sunday.
The aggressive Bertens saved a match point in a second-set tie-break and was in tears after bossing the decider, a frustrated Halep failing to put the disappointment of being unable to get the job done in straight sets behind her.
It was the third time in in the last four years Halep has been runner-up in the hard-court tournament - which she has never won - but Bertens will move up to a career-high 13th in the rankings on Monday.
Dutchwoman Bertens hit 34 winners as her positive approach paid off, halting Halep's nine-match winning run despite making 41 unforced errors as she claimed a sixth top-10 scalp in the past fortnight in what was her first hard-court final.
Halep dominated the first set, pinning Bertens back and unleashing an array of winners with power and precise groundstrokes after breaking in the first game of the match.
The Romanian broke for a second time to lead 5-2 and served out the set after saving a first break point, but Bertens grew in confidence and took advantage of more limited movement from the favourite to take a 4-1 lead in the second.
Halep raised her game following some words from her coach Darren Cahill, breaking back when Bertens hooked a backhand high and wide and winning a magnificent rally with a nonchalant volley.
A tie-break was required after a set point was saved by Halep, who threw her racket down in fury after a match point was fended off by the powerful Bertens, coming forward at every opportunity and taking it to a decider when her disgruntled opponent netted a forehand.
Halep looked flat and was on the ropes with Bertens remaining on the front foot, opening up a 4-1 lead in a flash.
A tweener from Halep went down well with the crowd in a rally which she somehow won, but Bertens finished her off with an ace before sobbing after pulling off a stirring fightback to claim her second title of the year.