Defending champion Simona Halep pulled off another three set victory at the Mutua Madrid Open, outlasting 2016 semifinalist Samantha Stosur to reach the quarterfinals.
WTA Staff

MADRID, Spain - No.3 seed Simona Halep marched into the quarterfinals on Wednesday with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Samantha Stosur at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Halep last played Stosur in a three-set tussle at the Miami Open, where the Romanian saved a match point en route to an emphatic deciding set back in March.

“I like the altitude here,” she said after the match. “I feel that I have more power. I feel that I can control the game, even if it's altitude. I use more spin for this tournament.

“Maybe I like also that the ball jumps a little bit higher, and I can take it from here, up to the shoulder. I just feel great here at this tournament. Even if I had two very tough matches, I feel good. I feel confident here on these courts.”

Playing on Estadio 3 at the Caja Magica, Halep enjoyed a much better start against the Aussie, converting her only break point opportunity to seal the opening set, and recover from an early second set blip to keep things on serve.

“I feel that against her I have to stay closer to the baseline, not very close, because she has a heavy ball. But if I go far from the baseline, I have no chance. She's opening the court. I cannot reach the balls.

“But I had a plan. I tried to find the rhythm in the return. But today was impossible. I just made some good returns.

“I was mentally strong. I think there was the key.”

Stosur continued to press, however, and broke serve for the second time to level the match.

“I was very confident when the third set started. I knew that before the match it was going to be a very tough one. She likes this tournament because of the altitude. Her topspin is really hard to return.

“I think you saw how she served today. She's an amazing player. She's very strong. My shoulder hurt a little bit in the end, but I think I was strong enough to stay there also with my body, not just mentally.

“I felt that mentally I am a little bit higher in this match. But also my body responded very well. Also I had sometimes to stay, like, far from the court because her shots were very strong.

“I moved well. I think I responded well also with the slices. So I think was a very high standard. She played really well today.”

Though she ended the match with more winners (31 to 24), the No.16 seed was undone by the defending champion's superior defense, drawing 33 unforced errors over three sets while Halep only allowed 12.

In the end, Halep served out the win after an hour and 51 minutes on court, and will next play Australian Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe for a spot in the last four.

“CoCo is playing flatter. Her first serve is flatter. I don't remember the last time I played against her. I know it’s going to be very tough. I watched a little bit of her match today.

“I have just to do what I have to do against her. I will talk tomorrow about the match. Now I'm tired. We will see.

“It's a good challenge for me. Again, I’m in quarterfinals here. I have nothing to lose tomorrow.”