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.

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

Halep still marvelous in Madrid: Under the roof on a rainy Thursday, 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.

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, 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.

Match moments: 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, averting 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.

Blistering 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.

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.

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 a 77 percent success rate behind her first service, and the Spaniard also won seven of ten points returning the Kudermetova second serve.

More to come…

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