Twice major winner Simona Halep powered past 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 topple Varvara Gracheva 7-5 0-6 6-4.
Halep, unseeded in the Spanish capital, was aggressive from the outset as she broke Badosa three times to clinch the opening set and took that momentum into the second, racing to a 3-0 lead before Badosa called the trainer for a shoulder problem.
The Romanian secured another break after the restart and closed out the match with ease to stay on course for a third title in Madrid.
“I feel great, I was playing some good tennis and I’m really happy about it,” said Halep, who started working with Patrick Mouratoglou, long-time coach of Serena Williams, earlier this month.
“We are working very hard on some things and as I see I am playing very well every match. I’m just focusing on getting better and getting stronger.”
Eighth seed Jabeur faced a tougher time against Russian Gracheva as she survived a double break in the decider to set up a meeting with Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, who got the better of Karolina Muchova 6-3 4-6 7-5.
“Ons, she’s always tricky on any surface,” said Bencic of her next opponent. “She finds ways, she plays different, she tries to put you off rhythm… you always expect the best and she’s a top 10 player.”
Earlier, double Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka found a way past Tamara Zidansek 3-6 6-1 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes to progress to the last 16, where she will play Amanda Anisimova following the American’s 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over Petra Martic.