Halep and Azarenka win in the Caja Mágica

Antonio Arenas Mutua News

Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka, two-time champion and two-time runner-up at the Mutua Madrid Open, respectively, have both won their opening matches at the twentieth edition of the tournament.

After a 2021 hampered by injuries, Simona Halep came flying out of the blocks in 2022, taking the title at the WTA 250 in Melbourne and putting in a solid performance at the Australian Open. Her last appearance came at the WTA 1000 in Indian Wells, where she lost to world number 1 Iga Swiatek, who would go on to win the trophy.

Her clash today against Shuai Zang was the Romanian’s first match of 2022 on clay. She seemed relatively unaffected by the change though, breaking her opponent’s serve in the first game of the match. Dominating from start to finish, she suffered a slight stumble early in the second set, where she lost her serve. She recovered quickly, though, to seal a 6-2, 6-3 win.

Paula Badosa, who saw off Veronika Kudermetova in her opener, now stands between Halep and the third round.

For her part, Victoria Azarenka had a strong finish to 2021, reaching the final in Indian Wells, where she would lose to Paula Badosa. However, she has not enjoyed the same luck so far in 2022, where she has failed to string together more than three straight victories.

The Belarusian, like Halep, arrived in Madrid without having played any clay-court tennis this season. Her first match in Madrid proved to be more of a test than that of the Romanian, with Golubic serving for a first set that Azarenka would eventually win in the tiebreak. The second was more straight forward, though, and three breaks of serve led her to a 7-6, 6-3 victory.

Now comfortably in the second round, Azarenka’s next encounter will be with Slovenian player Tamara Zidansek, a 6-2, 6-3 victor over Beatriz Haddad Maia.