In the match of the day in Madrid, Sloane Stephens knocked out fellow Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
“Playing Vika is always really competitive. She’s a good player, a great champion. I just tried to play my game, focus on what I was supposed to be doing,” Stephens told the WTA Insider.
“In the second set, she raised her game a little bit and I dropped overall. Overall, I thought it was a super-competitive match, and we both played well.”
Azarenka who beat Stephens in her first three, has now dropped her last four to the American.
“I felt that I really was taking all the control from the baseline points. I felt that I was doing the right things. I was moving the ball around. I was moving well, and I was playing smart tennis,” Azarenka said.
“I didn’t create anything with my serve today and it was really frustrating. I didn’t really have a game plan. There was really no game plan of what to do with the serve and that is something I need to take a look at and fix.”
Stephens will await Zheng-Cornet winner on Wednesday.
Petra Kvitova continued her good form on the clay. The Stuttgart champ won her sixth straight match beating former Madrid finalist Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 7-6(5).
“I think I’m trying to play well on all surfaces which I think is really showing and even today, it was a pretty difficult match,” Kvitova said. “I fought hard in the end and that is what is counting. The clay and the conditions here are a bit different compared to other venues, so I always needed time to fight it out.”
Kvitova could run into her Stuttgart semifinal opponent Kiki Bertens in the fourth round. Bertens bested former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3.
“I think every round is tougher,” Kvitova said of the favorite to win. “But I can’t really say one name. I mean we are seeing a lot of new faces winning the tournaments for sure. On the clay, I think Simona Halep is a great one. Now, Naomi Osaka can play on all surfaces as well. I think Kiki Bertens is always very dangerous on the clay, so many of them I think, and my next opponent for sure as well.”
Ash Barty also beat Danielle Collins in three and Belinda Bencic won the last match of the day edging Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3.
“The match was really difficult,” Bencic said. “I think we both played very good, it was definitely a high quality match.
“Sveta was playing amazing, and she just came by after injury so it’s nice to see. Well, not when I was on the court, I don’t want to see her playing well against me.
“Otherwise I’m so happy. I’m really proud that I beat her on clay, which I don’t think is going to happen again.”
Tuesday sees the return of World No. 1 Noami Osaka who takes on Sara Sorribes Tormo. Also in second round play, Simona Halep collides with Johanna Konta and Angelique Kerber battles Petra Martic.
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