The stars of the WTA battle for a place in the semis

Antonio Arenas Men's Tennis, Mutua News, Women's Tennis

Four #MMOPEN semi-final places will be decided tomorrow when the eight best players at this year’s tournament take to the courts. It promises to be a stellar day during which Paula Badosa, a newcomer to the round, will try to produce the best result for a Spanish woman in the WTA 1000 in the Caja Mágica.

[1] Ashleigh Barty vs. Petra Kvitova [9]
A clash between the best player in the world and the best player in the history of this tournament. Barty, who has only lost one match on clay so far this year (against Badosa in Charleston), arrives here with some impressive stats under her belt; she has won her last ten matches against Top 10 players and has a perfect 9-0 this year against the Top 20. Kvitova, meanwhile, a three-time champion in the Caja Mágica, currently leads their head-to-head (5-4).

“I love playing against Petra”, admitted Barty. “She gets the best out of me. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament several times and she loves the conditions”. “I can’t wait. Whenever I play against Ash, it’s a big challenge”, recognised Kvitova.

[5] Aryna Sabalenka vs. Elise Mertens [13]
One of the most intriguing matches. Doubles partners and champions of two Grand Slams in the category (2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open), Sabalenka and Mertens are also the last two players who managed to beat Simona Halep on clay. The Belarusian did so in Stuttgart, while the Belgian achieved the feat in the Caja Mágica today.

When they have had to face each other on opposite sides of the net, Sabalenka has come out on top more often: 4-2.

[8] Belinda Bencic vs. Paula Badosa [WC]
The Catalonian is looking to produce her career-best result at a WTA 1000, while the Swiss will be bidding to equal her semi-final finish from 2019. Badosa won the only clash between the two players, in Charleston in early April.

“I know exactly what to do and that gives me a good feeling”, analysed Bencic. “I think that will be the key, playing my own game knowing what she will do and adapting tactics”. Badosa knows she faces a huge challenge. “I know it’s going to be tough because she has been in many quarter finals and she has experience”.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Karolina Muchova
Pavlyuchenkova is back in the quarter-finals in Madrid 10 years after her last appearance in the round and she arrives there having produced her best wins by ranking so far this year against Pliskova (9) and Jennifer Brady (14). The 29-year-old Russian is in search of her first semi-final since October 2019 (WTA 500 in Moscow). Coincidentally, it was Muchova she beat there in the semis in their only previous encounter.

The Czech’s meteoric 2021 continues and she now has a 5-0 record over Top 20 players this year.

Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas take to the stage
Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas will make their bows tomorrow at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open. The Russian second seed and world number three will be looking for his first win in the Caja Mágica, and will open the day in the Manolo Santana Stadium against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich, one of today’s headline makers. Tsitsipas, who was a finalist in the last edition in 2019 (lost to Djokovic), will bring the day to a close on the centre court against Benoit Paire.

Zverev, the champion here in 2018 (beat Thiem in the final), has a very tough opener against Kei Nishikori in the second match in the Arantxa Sánchez Stadium. In the fourth match on the same court, Roberto Bautista will face American John Isner, who leads their head-to-head 3-2. However, they have never met on clay.

See the complete order of play here.