Two of the Top 3 seeds in Madrid fell on Wednesday, but the story was Maria Sharapova. Following critical comments from Kristina Mladenovic on her doping return, the Frenchwoman beat Sharapova in Stuttgart last year.
But today, it was the Russian’s turn in a strong 6-3, 6-4 win to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I just felt like I did the right things,” said Sharapova who was down a break in the first. “Despite a slow start, I was still very positive. I still felt like I was doing the right things out there, and continued to do so. I felt like I returned much better than I have been, which makes your life a little bit easier.”
Up next will be Kiki Bertens to blew out Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2.
“I don’t know much about her,” Sharapova said of Bertens. “I’ve seen a few of her matches. I spoke a little bit to Thomas [Hogstedt] as I was doing my cool down just now, a little bit about the match. It’s always interesting how you finish one, then it’s less than 24 hours you’re on to the next one.
“She’s a confidence player as well. I think that’s one of the reasons she’s been playing so well. Clearly loves the clay. I look forward to that challenge. It’s great to be at this stage.”
Wozniacki had hopes of returning to No. 1, but the Estonian had other plans.
“It was a really good match, I think one of my best matches ever,” Bertens said. “I’m really happy to be back here in Madrid – I think so far all the matches I’ve played here have been going very well.
“I was just going out there very calm, just going for my shots, and trying to play aggressive where I could… And of course if you hit almost everything in everything feels perfect.”
Another former No. 1 feel in Garbine Muguruza who was bounced by Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
“I was playing against No.3 in the world, and it’s always giving you confidence when you’re beating big players on the big stages,” Kasatkina said. “Matches like this, when you’re fighting for every ball — of course after these matches, you’re feeling much better.”
Muguruza leaves her home event in disappointment.
“I am disappointed, but in comparison with other years that I felt in Madrid, this year I’m very happy because I feel like I really gave everything I had over there,” said Muguruza. “I felt good. It’s just that Kasatkina played better today.”
Meanwhile, World No. 1 Simona Halep cruised into the quarterfinals, overwhelming Kristyna Pliskova 6-1, 6-4. She’ll meet another Pliskova in Karolina tomorrow.
The higher ranked Pliskova had no issues in a 6-2, 6-3 win over US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
Pliskova is just 1-7 against Halep.
“There’s not much we can talk about, because we know everything,” said Pliskova looking ahead. “Kristyna had some chances today, so that’s good – but I think I’m a little more comfortable for than Kristyna is.”
Caroline Garica, Petra Kvitova and Carla Saurez Navarro were also winners on the day.
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