Genie Bouchard cannot be stopped, at least this week in Madrid.
The former Top 10 Canadian has struggled this year, last month competing (and losing early) at ITF-level events. This week she took down former No. 1 Maria Sharapova in a dramatic second-round encounter, then on Wednesday rolled over ailing top seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 5-0, retired.
Kerber retired trailing 0-5 in the second set after receiving treatment for a left thigh injury.
Bouchard in advancing to a career-first Madrid quarterfinal round will next face No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated China’s Wang Qiang 6-4, 7-5.
“Each set I was a break down,” Kuznetsova said of the qualifier Wang. “I mean, to me, as I said to my coach, I was just with her in a chat right now. I said, ‘Look, it was kind of important match. It’s huge event. It’s third round.’ I know she’s been great and she plays good and everything. I’m happy I made it through.”
It will be another incident of smack-talking players meeting on the court. Bouchard had called Sharapova a doping cheater before their meeting. Now Bouchard will meet Kuznetsova, who contradicted Bouchard’s stories of players coming up to her in the locker room to congratulate her on being so outspoken regarding Sharapova, telling the media that Bouchard herself doesn’t speak to anyone in the locker room.
Kerber will nonetheless return to the No. 1 spot on the WTA rankings next week, replacing Serena Williams who hasn’t struck a ball since January, and is off the tour expecting her first child.
No. 3 Simona Halep was another Top 10 seed in action, needing to work hard to get past No. 16 Sam Stosur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
“My shoulder hurt a little bit in the end, but I think I was strong enough to stay there also with my body, not just mentally,” Halep said after the three-set battle. “I felt that mentally I am a little bit higher in this match. But also my body responded very well. Also I had sometimes to stay, like, far from the court because her shots were very strong. I moved well. I think I responded well also with the slices. So I think was a very high standard.”
Halep will next meet unseeded American CoCo Vandeweghe, who came from a set down on Wednesday to defeat Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.
“CoCo is playing flatter,” Halep said. “Her first serve is flatter. I don’t remember the last time I played against her. I know it’s going to be very tough. I watched a little bit of her match today. I have just to do what I have to do against her.”
No. 14 Kristina Mladenovic was the only other seeded player on the docket Wednesday, easily dismissing France’s Oceane Dodin 6-2, 6-1. Mladenovic will next meet Romania’s unseeded Sorana Cirstea, who outlasted Japan’s Misaki Doi 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
Thursday’s highlights in Madrid will see (3) Halep vs. Vandeweghe, (14) Mladenovic vs. (WC) Cirstea, and (8) Kuznetsova vs. Bouchard.
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