No.26 seed Paula Badosa thrilled the Manolo Santana Stadium crowds Saturday with a dominant 6-3, 6-0 third-round victory over No.6 Coco Gauff of the United States at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Badosa, the highest-ranked Spanish player, advanced to the Round of 16 in her nation’s capital for the second time in her career with the 71-minute win over last year’s Roland Garros finalist Gauff.
"I'm proud of myself," Badosa said after her win. "Matches like this ... in this court with all the crowd supporting you, it makes me feel like everything, it's worth it."
Badosa will next face No.9 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, who outlasted another Spaniard, wild-card Rebeka Masarova, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Fast facts: Badosa started a big surge up the rankings two years ago in Madrid, when she reached the semifinals of her homeland’s WTA 1000 event as a wild card ranked World No.62. That showing kickstarted her rise to World No.2 exactly 12 months later.
Badosa has since slid to her current position of No.42, but she showed her topmost form on Saturday to earn her 10th win over a Top 10 player in her career. It is Badosa's second Top 10 win in two weeks, along with her Stuttgart dismissal of No.8 Daria Kasatkina.
Badosa improved her head-to-head record against Gauff to 3-1 by taking their first meeting on clay after three previous matches on hard courts. Badosa's first win over Gauff came during her title run at WTA 1000 Indian Wells in 2021.
Tale of the match: Both players went on the attack while returning in the early stages, and there were break points in each of the first five games. Badosa came out of that stretch up a break at 3-2, and she took command by consolidating for 4-2 with a powerful rally forehand winner on game point.
Badosa held onto her lead through 5-3, where she drew four consecutive forehand errors from Gauff to break the American at love and seal the opening frame. Badosa converted half of her six break points in the first set.
The Spaniard forced another batch of forehand errors two games later to break Gauff for 2-0 in the second set. Badosa rolled from there, reeling off the last eight games of the match. Badosa won 75 percent of points returning the Gauff second service.
Maria Sakkari awaits: Badosa will take on Sakkari in the Round of 16 on Monday, after Sakkari overcame 74th-ranked Masarova in a 2-hour and 23-minute nightcap on Saturday.
Masarova was a set away from the first Top 10 win of her career, but Sakkari battled back and prevailed at 1:15 a.m. local time. Sakkari faced 20 break points in the match but was able to save 17 of them.
Badosa and Sakkari have split their two previous meetings. Badosa won their round-robin match when they were both making their WTA Finals debuts in 2021, but Sakkari avenged that loss in the 2022 Indian Wells semifinals, ending Badosa's title defense.
"Maria, she's a very good player, very intense," Badosa said. "I really love how she competes. I really like players like that, that they give all on court, and they go for it no matter what. I really respect these kind of players."