Halep surprises home favorite Badosa to progress at Madrid

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MADRID: Two-time big winner Simona Halep beat world number two Paula Badosa 6-3 6-1 to reach the third round of the Madrid Open on Saturday while Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur overcame a second-set wobble to overthrow Varvara Gracheva 7-5 0- 6 6-4.

Halep, unseeded in the Spanish capital, was aggressive from the start breaking Badosa three times to clinch the first set and built that momentum in the second, taking a 3-0 lead before Badosa called the coach for a shoulder problem.

The Romanian got another break after the restart and closed out the game with ease to stay on track for a third Madrid title.

Halep may have given what looked like a vintage performance to knock out house favorite Badosa, but the Romanian insists it’s Simona 2.0.

Halep, whose 2021 campaign has been hampered by injuries, fell to 21 in the world but her ruthless game against Badosa was a reminder of the level she played during the 64 weeks she spent at the top of the table.

“New Simona, I would say,” assured Halep.

“I felt good on the court. I’m happy to be on the court, and that’s the most important thing at this age. I think I’ve improved a lot in the last four weeks, and I always trying to improve myself further.

Halep, 30, hired former Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou earlier this month and the partnership appears to be off to a good start.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to have Patrick in my dressing room as a coach. We are working very hard on certain things and I see that I have played well in every game. I just focus on improving and strengthening myself,” she said.

Halep opened the proceedings with a break of serve and took a 2-0 lead. Fired up by the home crowd, Badosa, who is Catalan but lives in Madrid, caught up with the Romanian, winning the next three games. Halep surged once more to win the first set.

After losing seven straight games, trailing Halep 0-3 in the second, Badosa called the coach to receive treatment on his right shoulder.

Badosa saved two match points to hold it 1-5 but Halep closed out the win soon after, finishing with an impressive 21 winners to 14 unforced errors ratio.

An emotional Badosa refused to blame her shoulder for the loss and said Halep played a “perfect” game.

“It’s not the best time right now,” Badosa said, fighting back tears.

” Pretty bad. I do not know. It’s hard to lose at home.

“It’s been a tough week too. Very stressful, many things. Difficult draw too. But it happens like that, and I have to accept it.

“I think I need the days off, because there are tournaments that seem like five, and that’s the case right now.”

Eighth seed Jabeur had a tougher time against Russia’s Gracheva as she survived a double break in the decider to set up a meeting with Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, who got the better of Karolina Muchova 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Earlier, former world number one Victoria Azarenka rallied from a one-set deficit to defeat last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist Tamara Zidansek 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes and will next face American Amanda Anisimova. .

Anisimova, 20, a former Roland Garros semi-finalist, weathered a tough three-set match against Croatian veteran Petra Martic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Posted in Dawn, May 2, 2022

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