Victoria Azarenka has not won three matches at a tournament since the Australian Open. The Belarusian has not had the best of times on the court since then having walked off the court mid-match against Linda Fruhvirtova in Miami. However, the former World No.1 has found some promising form here on the Spanish clay as she takes on the rising star Amanda Anisimova.
The 20-year-old American is establishing herself well on the WTA tour after an excellent start to the season. With a three-set win for the second time this year over third seed Aryna Sabalenka, Anisimova then beat a tricky opponent in Petra Martićto reach the last 16 for the first time. Anisimova is adapting her hard-hitting game well to the clay surface, and playing for the second time in Madrid, she’s on good track to perhaps better her French Open semi-finals run of 2019.
Expect some hard-hitting groundstrokes in this match-up. Anisimova is a flat-hitting ball striker and Azarenka will need to mix up the rallies and move the American around the court, testing her sliding skills. The experience advantage is with Azarenka here, but Anisimova already has some top wins on clay this year, and if she can grab hold of the momentum early on there should be no problem with her making the last eight – even with a fighting Azarenka.
Prediction: Anisimova in three sets.
Simona Halep v Coco Gauff  H2H & Match Fundamentals
Simona Halephas brought some brilliant form into the clay season under the appointment of her new coach Patrick Mouratoglou. The former World No.1 took out the second seeded Paula Badosa in the second round, losing just four games to the Spanish favourite.
In a strange coincidence, the French coach has also mentored Halep’s opponent – Coco Gauff. The American has had some of her best results on the clay, making her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open in 2020. Since then, she won a WTA 250 title on the clay in Parma last year, and reached a career-high ranking of No.15. Gauff has seen off Anna Karolina Schmeidlová and Yulia Putintseva so far, but this will be a significant step-up in quality given Halep’s inspired start in the Spanish capital.
Halep has already beaten Gauff twice before, and both in straight sets. The Romanian is playing on her best surface at a tournament she has won back-to-back before, so Gauff will need to bring her best tennis and not loosen up on the forehand if she is to have any opportunity here.
Jannik Sinner comes into Madrid this year as the top-ranked Italian, after the withdrawal of Matteo Berrettini with a hand injury. The World No.12 will be looking to get back into the top-10 after making his debut in November last year, and after a strong quarter final showing in Monte-Carlo, the 20-year-old has started his 2022 clay season well.
Tommy Paul is making his second appearance here in Madrid, after reaching the second round here last year. Paul has only one registered win on the clay this year courtesy of a retirement from Peter Gojowczyk back in Houston. However, he comes into Madrid just one ranking spot below his career-high at 34, so a seeding for this year’s Roland Garros is well within his reach.
Sinner has some great weapons on the clay, and his movement is amongst the best on the tour. However, despite reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open in 2020, he has yet to make the third round here. Paul is not a player to go down without a fight though, and with three-set wins over Alexander Zverev,Karen Khachanov and Frances Tiafoe this year, the American knows how to turn it up for a big match.
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