Halep back from the brink in Madrid

Antonio Arenas Mutua News

On a day when the ties were decided for the last sixteen at the Mutua Madrid Open, the players most feared in the locker room continued to advance on the Caja Mágica clay. As players bid to have their names among the best 16 at the tournament, Tuesday at the competition provided numerous intense and unforgettable battles in the Spanish capital.

In order to keep her title defence alive in the Caja Mágica, Simona Halep had to come through an agonising match in the Manolo Santana Stadium. The Romanian third seed beat Italian Player Roberta Vinci 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 after one hour and 55 minutes of play.

In an up and down match, Halep’s tempo gave way to Vinci’s variety of shots; the encounter was a masterclass of technique and skill. Frequently approaching the net and with her characteristic cut shots, the player from Taranto reached 5-2 in the deciding set, and served to win the match (5-3) before eventually bowing out to the defending champion in the final tiebreak.

Having struggled through her first two matches on the Caja Mágica clay, the Romanian will now bid for a place in the quarters against Australian player Samantha Stosur, a semifinalist in 2016, who beat the Colombian Mariana Duque Mariño 6-3, 7-5.

Carla Suárez’s opponent awaits in the last sixteen

In a tight match on Court 4, after two hours and 14 minutes of tennis, CoCo Vandeweghe’s consistency eventually proved enough to give her a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over German player Laura Siegemund, recent champion of the clay in Stuttgart.

The New Yorker, currently WTA world number 20, will now take on Carla Suárez Navarro for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals. Coming into their first meeting on clay, the Spaniard has a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head, all of which took place on hard court.

For her part, demonstrating a liking for the Caja Mágica, Sorana Cirstea stamped her ticket to the third round at the Mutua Madrid Open by beating US player Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-2.

The Romanian, who reached the quarter-finals in 2016, is now one win away from repeating her result here last year. To do so though, she will first have to get past the Japanese Misaki Doi, who produced a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Croat Donna Vekic – a qualifier.

In another highly competitive match, Irina-Camelia Begu beat Swedish player Johanna Larsson 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 after two hours and 25 minutes of play. The Romanian, who managed to reach the quarters in 2016, will be attempting to repeat last year’s achievement against the winner of the clash between Timea Bacsinszky and Kiki Bertens.

In addition, in an all-Chinese encounter between two players who came through qualifying, Qiang Wang beat Saisai Zheng 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in 59 minutes to book a match against the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last sixteen.