MADIRD, Spain - Two-time defending champion Simona Halep made it a baker's dozen of consecutive victories at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday, as she rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.
Halep was nearly flawless in the first round victory, her 13th consecutive match won in the Spanish capital, as she never allowed Makarova to hold serve over the course of 50 minutes and struck 11 winners to just eight unforced errors over 13 games.
"I think it was a great match. I played really well. Of course, maybe she didn't play her best, but she's always tough to play against. It was a good match and a good start," Halep said after the match.
"I was moving great. I felt the game. I like to play on this court. Always when I come back here, I feel a little bit more relaxed, so maybe that's why I can touch my best level every time I play. Hopefully, I can keep it also for the next round."
— WTA (@WTA) May 6, 2018
Though Halep exited the first tournament of her clay court season in Stuttgart under an injury cloud after losing to CoCo Vandeweghe in her second match, the World No.1 brushed off all concerns about a lingering leg issue after her victory.
"I don't have problems any more. I had a lot of treatment. I took care of my leg," Halep said of the injury concerns. "It was actually coming from the back. I always have little issues with my back, so I know how to treat it."
With the Romanian's legs now healthy, Makarova proved unable to break down Halep's elite defenses on Madrid's terre battue, as she struck 30 unforced errors to just 10 winners over the course of the match.
Up next for the World No.1 will be the winner of the first round match between Belgians Alison van Uytvanck and Rabat champion Elise Mertens, who is on a 12-match winning streak of her own with two titles in the clay court season thus far.
In other early round action in the draw, wildcard Monica Puig defeated Zarina Diyas, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2; American Bernarda Pera edged Aryna Sabalenka in a clash of qualifiers, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; former French Open finalist Samantha Stosur ousted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3; and Halep's compatriot Sorana Cirstea held on to defeat Czech Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Halep and Cirstea's victories ensured that at least three Romanians would feature in the second round in Madrid for the third straight year, as Irina-Camelia Begu upset reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to end Saturday's play.
A fourth, Mihaela Buzarnescu, fell to Maria Sharapova later in Sunday's action, 6-4, 6-1.
"All the girls from Romania are really strong. They train a lot. They play really well, if they are confident," Halep said. "Irina is my friend since maybe few years, [and she's] a great person. I really enjoyed last night that she won the match. She deserved to win. I think that she has a big chance to do a big result here, like the previous years."