Former World No. 1 Simona Halep displayed her old form on Saturday, dismantling No. 2 seed Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-1 on her home turf in Spain to move to the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Halep, of Romania, won the tournament in 2016 and 2017. Against Badosa, now ranked No. 2 in the world, she needed just one hour, 16 minutes to advance to the Round of 16 for the seventh time in 11 appearances.
Unseeded in Madrid for the first time since 2013, Halep hit 21 winners compared to 14 unforced errors. She dominated in games she served, winning 84.4 percent of them compared to 51.5 percent for Badosa. Halep also converted five of 10 break chances; Badosa was successful on just one of her seven break chances.
“I feel great, I felt I was playing some good tennis and I’m really happy about it,” Halep said after the match. “She is very good at this moment. She is number two in the world so it’s just confidence. She was playing great but I believed I had my chance so I gave everything I had.”
Next up for Halep is No. 14 seed Coco Gauff, who recorded a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
In other action, No.15 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus came from behind to knock out Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 to move to the Round of 16 in Madrid for the first time since 2016.
Tied at 1 game each in the second set, Azarenka found another gear. She ran off nine straight games — including three straight in which Zidansek didn’t score a point — and cruised the rest of the way.
“I feel she started really, really well. The longer the match went on the better I was playing and the more comfortable I felt,” said Azarenka, a two-time winner of the Australian Open. “I think my attitude was really good today to try and find solutions and go for my shots, take control in my own hands.”
In the next round, Azarenka will face American Amanda Anisimova, who authored her own comeback to defeat Croatian Petra Martic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia also needed three sets to eliminate Russian Varvara Gracheva, 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Awaiting her in the next round is No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 winner over Czech Karolina Muchova.
Moving on to the Round of 16 in Madrid for the first time are Czech Marie Bouzkova and Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, two unseeded players who will face each other.
Bouzkova needed two hours, 25 minutes to defeat fellow qualifier Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1. Alexandrova came from a break down in the second set to beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain 6-4, 7-5.
–Field Level Media