The sole Top 8 seed remaining will face a former champion in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open. Ons Jabeur and Simona Halep became the first two players to move through to the last eight at the WTA 1000 event on Monday with Round 3 victories over Belinda Bencic and Coco Gauff, respectively.
The eighth-seeded Jabeur scored her first win against Belinda Bencic in three career meetings to be the first player through to the quarterfinals. Jabeur had previously been beaten by Bencic not only in the same round in Madrid a year ago, but for the title in Charleston last month.
In just under two hours, Jabeur overcame both the No. 11 seed and a weather delay prior to the start of the third set in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 triumph. The two played the final set of their match under a closed roof due to rain.
Ons on the win: Jabeur more than doubled Bencic's winner output in victory (39 to 15), and kept herself on the plus-side by hitting 28 unforced errors. She also served nine aces and saved five of the six break points she faced. All in all, she said, it was the perfect recipe for success.
"I came here to take my revenge ... I wish I played like that in the final in Charleston, to be honest," Jabeur said.
"Part of me is very proud of myself for coming today and getting the win. Belinda is such an amazing player and it's very tough to play against her. I'm very happy with the level I showed today, and hopefully this level will continue for the rest of the tournament."
Solid Halep steers past Gauff
Following Jabeur's victory, Halep overcame American teenager Coco Gauff at a WTA 1000 for the second time this year. After beating No.2 seed Paula Badosa in Round 2, the former World No.1 and two-time Madrid champion picked up a second win against a seeded player this week with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over the No. 14 seed.
Turning point: Halep never lost serve in a 6-3, 6-4 win over Gauff in Indian Wells in March, but came back from a break down in the second set for the straight-sets win.
She won five straight games from 4-1 down, breaking Gauff back from 40-0 at 4-2, in closing out the 77-minute contest.
"I think I played very well in the first set. When I stayed super focused at 4-All, that was really important ... that was the difference," Halep told reporters after the match.
"The second set, she changed the tactics and she was super, super aggressive. It was really tough to return the balls, but then I just calmed down and I found the rhythm. I adjusted myself to her game, and in the end, it was super good that I could actually push her back a little bit."
Scouting Halep vs. Jabeur: Halep and Jabeur have played three previous times, with the Romanian holding a 2-1 edge. All three prior meetings came on hard courts, including a 6-4, 6-3 win for Halep in Dubai earlier this year.
"It's going to be a totally different match ... In Dubai, it was pretty tough because everybody [in the crowd] was with her," Halep said.
"But sometimes I get the energy also from the crowd, like here with Paula Badosa, so I don't struggle with that. I love the energy on court and I love the atmosphere. It's good to have people than not to have people, so it will be good.
"She's different. She's a great person, first of all, because we get so well together. It's always nice to talk to her. But every time on court is a big fight, big battle. I'm expecting a big one next round.
"But I'm here just to give my best, as I said every day. I feel good on court, I feel my game. I'm just looking forward to play it and to fight for it."