Halep, Jabeur set quarterfinal showdown in Madrid

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. 

Revenge was sweet for Jabeur to begin the day, as the eighth-seeded Tunisian scored her first win over 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.

Madrid: Jabeur defeats Bencic for first time in three meetings

2022 Madrid

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 over 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.

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. 

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