Simona Halep came from 5-2 down in the third set to deny Roberta Vinci 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(2) to advance to the third round at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday.
Halep, who won the Madrid title last year over Dominika Cibulkova, improved to 4-0 against the Italian on clay.
“Her game is not easy to play. Her slices are very difficult to return,” Halep, who trailed 5-2 in the final set, said. “She was hitting pretty strong also with the forehand today, serve, everything. She played unbelievable.
“I was close to losing the match, but I stayed strong. I stayed focused. I didn’t give up. That makes this match much more like bigger for me. It means a lot.”
Next for Halep is Sam Stosur who she beat in the semifinals last year.
Cibulkova, though, was stunned by Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin 6-2, 6-4.
Also, Kiki Bertens knocked out Timea Bacsinsky and Sarona Cirstea ousted Cici Bellis.
On Wednesday, fresh off her big win over Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard faces here second straight former No. 1 in Angelique Kerber.
“I want to go for it,” Bouchard said of Kerber. “I’m the underdog, by far. It’s nice to have this position these past couple years. So I want to at least take advantage of that, just go for it, play good tennis, build on this, and enjoy it, kind of just show what I can do.”
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