MADRID, SPAIN – World number two Paula Badosa and former Roland Garros champion Simona Halep contest a second round blockbuster in Madrid on day three of the first major stop on the road to Roland Garros.
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Paula Badosa  v Simona Halep H2H & Match Fundamentals
Paula Badosa impressed with an opening round win over Veronika Kudermetova as she sent out a big statement in front of her home crowd. Now Badosa looks to continue the momentum and be the player that takes advantage of Iga Swiatek’s absence this week. Badosa’s consistent power mixed with stubborn defensive skills has seen her climb to world number two and will now look for a WTA1000 title to match her consistent form.
A big test awaits Badosa in the second round though as she faces former Madrid and Roland Garros champion Simona Halep. The Romanian started her relationship with Patrick Mouratoglou with a straight forward win over Shuai Zhang as she looks for a strong clay court season. After suffering a big injury last year, Halep will be determined to mount a challenge for Roland Garros and will know how important momentum is heading into the second grand slam of the year.
This will be a long and entertaining match with both players looking to use the angles of the court to outsmart each other. Halep will need to serve well and with accuracy while Badosa will look to step into the court when she can. This match could come too early in Halep’s clay court season against a consistently aggressive Badosa but nevertheless should be a learning experience for both players heading into Roland Garros.
Prediction: Badosa in three sets.
Belinda Bencic  v Karolina Muchova [SR] H2H & Match Fundamentals
Belinda Bencic has rediscovered her form in recent months after post-COVID effects and injuries halted her momentum from the triumph at the Olympics. Bencic’s run to the Miami semi-finals proved confidence can take her game to new heights and her run to the Charleston title only further proved this as she beat the likes of Madison Keys, Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur to the title. Now the 25 year-old looks to take her confidence and translate into deep runs on the European clay.
Next for Bencic is the tricky game style of Karolina Muchova who has had to overcome her own injury struggles in the last few months. Muchova returned to action in Miami after an eight month lay-off but had to retire in her first match back. Now the Czech Republican will look to use the clay court season to play her way into form and increase her confidence heading into the grass court season.
Bencic’s smart use of power and consistency should prove too strong here for Muchova who has only just come back from injury. The first set will be tight as the Czech Republican will display some of her unique variety but in the end Bencic should prove too strong and reach the last 16 in Madrid.
It wasn’t too long ago that people within tennis were debating as to how soon Coco Gauff was going to win a grand slam. Roll a few months later and the young American is struggling for consistent results and will be looking for a strong build-up to Roland Garros. Gauff’s big serve matched with baseline power will cause any player problems but can the American develop enough variety and consistency to earn a big title on the WTA tour?
Clay-court veteran Yulia Putintseva is next up for Gauff and the Kazakh possess defensive stubbornness as well as controlled power that causes her opponents problems. Putintseva will look to take advantage of her favourite time of year and produce another clay-court swing that is full of upsets and drama.
This is a match where Gauff will need to be patient and consistent as Putintseva can construct points well as well as make it difficult for her opponents to be aggressive. This will be a tough match for the American but one she should edge through especially in faster Madrid conditions.
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