Halep, Badosa sweep into Madrid second-round showdown

Halep, Badosa sweep into Madrid second-round showdown

The Mutua Madrid Open already has a marquee second-round tussle lined up, with two-time champion Simona Halep and World No.2 Paula Badosa advancing to face each other after speedy openers.

Halep got her 2022 campaign in the Spanish capital off to a flying start, easing past Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3 on Manolo Santana Stadium.

Badosa followed up on the same court shortly thereafter, sweeping the final nine games en route to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Veronika Kudermetova.

Showdown upcoming: Despite their elevated status in the elite of women’s tennis, this will be the first meeting between Halep and Badosa.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting match, because it’s going to be quite a clay-court match very tactically, and I’m really looking forward to that,” Badosa said, looking ahead to her match with Halep. “Of course she’s a great champion. So maybe I’m the favorite or no, I will try to give my best, because for sure she will push me to the limits.

“I’m really looking forward to these kind of matches, because I really like them and it’s the matches that you work for, you know.”

Halep still marvelous in Madrid: Under the roof on a rainy day, former World No.1 Halep executed a 68-minute victory over an opponent who had defeated her on multiple occasions in the past.

With the victory, Halep edged ahead to a 3-2 lead in her head-to-head with Zhang, who had stunned the Romanian in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open after previously being 0-14 in Grand Slam first-round matches .

Halep has reached the Mutua Madrid Open final a tournament-record four times, winning the title in 2016 and 2017 and finishing as runner-up in 2014 and 2019. Newly under the tutelage of Patrick Mouratoglou, Halep was precise against Zhang on Thursday.

“I’m really happy that I could win this match,” Halep said afterwards. “It means a lot. Being in Madrid, I have great memories. So everything went together today and I played a good match.

“Every time when you start with someone, it’s tough because you are nervous, you don’t know how it’s going to be. But I was pretty confident that everything will be okay because I have a great relation with [Mouratoglou].

“I’m honored, because I always thought that he’s great. Now I have the confirmation that he’s great, and he’s helping me a lot with all the things that I have to improve and I have to do on court.”

Madrid: Halep picks up opening win over Zhang

2022 Madrid

Match times: Zhang matched Halep in winners on the day, but Halep kept her unforced error count much lower, with 17 to Zhang’s 39. Halep converted all five of her break points to take the swift victory.

Two breaks in the first five games of the match gave Halep a quick advantage, and the two-time Grand Slam champion slammed two wonderful passing winners to hold for 5-1, warning break points in the process. A forehand winner closed out the opening set for Halep.

World No.40 Zhang used aggressive play to nudge ahead by an early break in the second set, but Halep quickly turned that set around, winning six of the next seven games to romp to the second round.

Blister Badosa: Badosa, who is enjoying her first week as the newly-installed World No.2, was equally impressive on her home soil. Badosa required just over an hour to dispatch World No.25 Kudermetova.

Highlights: Badosa def. Kudermetova

Like Halep, Badosa notched a victory over a player who had given her much trouble in the past, with Kudermetova having won their first three meetings. However, Badosa at last defeated Kudermetova in Indian Wells earlier this year, and now has two wins in a row against her rival.

Badosa was superb coming back to the event which catapulted her towards the top of the game. Only a year ago, Badosa came into the event as a 62nd-ranked wildcard, but the Spaniard thrived amongst her compatriot crowds to storm into the semifinals.

New No.2 Badosa embracing a ‘stressful’ return to Madrid

This week’s highest-ranked player (following the injury withdrawal of World No.1 Iga Swiatek), Badosa got through a tricky opening set, saving all five of the break points she faced. Badosa converted her lone break point for 5-3, then finished off the set with a forehand winner.

Badosa breezed through the bagel second set, completing the match without being broken. Badosa ended the affair with an 84 percent success rate behind her first service overall, and the Spaniard also won nine of 15 points returning Kudermetova’s second serve.

“[Kudermetova is] aggressive, I knew I had to play my game, not to let her dominate a lot,” said Badosa. “So that’s what I tried to do. I think at the beginning I was nervous, but then I finished playing in a very high level.”

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