Tournament favorites Naomi Osaka and Simona both advanced into the third round at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday.
After winning a tough opening set against Sara Sorribes Tormo, she dropped the second but won the last six games to take it 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-0 over the last Spaniard left in the women’s draw.
“I have played [Sorribes Tormo] before and I have practiced with her once before, but it was a couple of years ago,” said Osaka. “I remembered that she, of course, runs really well, and I feel like her game is quite suited for clay. So, I actually knew it was going to be a hard match. I wanted it not to be. But I knew it was going to be.
“I feel like in the first set, I got a bit lucky there,” she said. “And then in the second set, I just got up and then I just got a little bit unfocused. And then in the third set, I just, like, went zombie mode, and then just thought of everything that I had to do to win and — not necessarily the outcome, but just like the little things in between every game.”
Halep, who could return to No. 1 with a title this week, cruised past Rabat finalist Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-1.
“I feel good every time when I come to Madrid and I’m happy to be back and winning matches,” the 2-time champion Halep said. “It’s a special place for me. Many friends are coming.”
“It’s nice to play in front of them and when you feel like home, you can play better.”
Halep now meets Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia.
“We haven’t played against each other so I don’t have the feeling how [Kuzmova is] playing,” said Halep. “I will check a little bit, I have enough time. It’s a big challenge always when I play with someone that I never played before. So I just want to see what I have to do against her. But the main thing is to focus on myself, on my game, and if I feel it, then I have a better chance.”
A twisted ankle during practice forced No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber out of the tournament and putting Petra Martic in the third round.
It was a tough day in the Pliskova family. No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova was bounced by Kateryna Kozlova 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Sister Kristyna also came up short going down to Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-4.
Caroline Garcia was also a notable winner. She’ll now face Petra Kvitova tomorrow.
“It’s always very difficult to play against Petra,” Garcia said. “She won last year her and so the conditions are very good for her. The last time we played in Miami, and I lost, but this will be our first match on clay. I’m always very excited to play top players; I will have to play better than today, trust myself, and be aggressive.
“Against the best players is when you learn the most about yourself, and it’s for these matches that I train and practice. It’s like home here for her, because she’s won here so many times. I want to try to put all my practice from the last few weeks on the court tomorrow.”
Also tomorrow, Sloane Stephens and Belinda Bencic return.
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