Two-time champion Simona Halep and world No.2 Paula Badosa will meet in a mouth-watering second-round clash at the Madrid Open after opening with victories.
Romanian Halep beat Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3, while home favourite Badosa also prevailed on Thursday, defeating Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-0.
It will be the first time Halep and Badosa have met.
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Former world No.1 Halep won consecutive Madrid titles in 2016 and 2017 and was runner-up in 2014 and 2019, while Badosa, a semi-finalist in Madrid last year, has made it to No.2 in the world for the first time this week.
Halep won her opening match under a closed roof on a rainy morning in the Spanish capital, with Badosa advancing on the same court later after saving all five break points she faced.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting match, because it’s going to be quite a clay-court match very tactically, and I’m really looking forward to that,” Badosa said.
“Of course, Simona is a great champion. So maybe I’m the favourite or not, but I will try to give my best, because for sure she will push me to the limits.”
Top-ranked Iga Swiatek withdrew from the clay-court tournament on Wednesday because of a sore arm.
In other matches on Thursday, American teen Coco Gauff defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-0 6-2 and Victoria Azarenka beat Viktorija Golubic 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.