Simona Halep brought back some of her Madrid magic on Saturday evening, once again advancing to the Mutua Madrid Open Round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No.2 seed and Spanish hope Paula Badosa.
Former World No.1 Halep, who won the Madrid title back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 and has reached the final two additional times, emerged victorious in her first meeting with surging Badosa after 1 hour and 16 minutes of play.
Halep will next take on No.14 seed Coco Gauff in the third round, after Gauff outlasted Yulia Putintseva in the nightcap match on Manolo Santana Stadium 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. Halep holds a 2-0 win-loss record against Gauff.
Stellar Simona: With her latest victory in the Spanish capital, Halep moves into the Mutua Madrid Open Round of 16 for the seventh time out of her 11 main-draw appearances at the event.
Halep is up to 29 main-draw match-wins at the Mutua Madrid Open throughout her career. The only tournaments at which Halep has accumulated more match-wins in her career are the Australian Open and Roland Garros, with 31 match-wins apiece at each of those events.
Only three-time champion Petra Kvitova has won more main-draw matches than Halep in the history of this tournament. Kvitova has won 32 matches at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Q. Some people are describing your performance today as vintage. Did it feel like vintage Simona or was this Simona 2.0?— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 30, 2022
HALEP: New Simona, I would say (smiling).
I will take this match as a boost and confidence, b/c I played with one of the best players in the world.
By the numbers: Halep has discussed her enhanced aggressive play under new coach Patrick Mouratoglou, and she showed it against Badosa. Halep, currently ranked World No.21 and unseeded in Madrid for the first time since 2013, had 21 winners to 14 unforced errors during the clash.
One year ago, Badosa broke through on home soil with a run to the Madrid semifinals as a 62nd-ranked wildcard, and has quickly risen to the top of the game since then, hitting a new career-high ranking of World No.2 on Monday. However, Badosa was just 1-for-7 on break points against Halep on Saturday.
Match moments: Halep saw an early break in the first set slip away, but she grabbed another break point at 3-3 with a brilliant crosscourt forehand, which she converted to regain the lead. Halep broke Badosa again once more to claim the opening set.
A drop-volley winner gave Halep another early break for 2-0 in the second set, and she would not relinquish that advantage. Halep won the first nine points in a row on her serve in the second set.
Badosa, who had her serving shoulder attended to during a medical time-out at 3-0, boldly saved two match points at 5-0 to avert the bagel. However, Halep gritted through the final game to prevail, saving one last break point in the process.
Gauff fends off Putintseva challenge
Gauff followed Halep on Manolo Santana Stadium, where she staved off a furious comeback by speedy World No.44 Putintseva before the 18-year-old American triumphed in 2 hours and 21 minutes.
Putintseva, a two-time Roland Garros quarterfinalist, has defeated Top 20 opposition on clay courts eight times in her career. However, Gauff was able to avoid the upset, converting six of her 21 break points to eke out the hard-fought win.
Gauff initially zoomed through the encounter, leading by a set and a break at 6-1, 2-1. But Kazakhstan's Putintseva found a second wind, darting around the court to prevail in rallies and reeling off five straight games to level the match at one set apiece.
Gauff was up early breaks two times in the third set, but Putintseva broke back immediately each instance. But Gauff outfoxed Putintseva in more long rallies to break again for 5-4, and this time, the American teen used some superb serves to tough out a close game and seal victory.