Halep and Badosa set up Madrid clash

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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, to set up a first match between the pair.

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 the Spanish capital 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."

In Thursday's biggest match, Amanda Anisimova celebrated her fifth career top-10 win by knocking out champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The 20-year-old American would have headed into Thursday's match-up full of confidence having also defeated the world number four in Charleston earlier this month.

Sabalenka is now 0-4 against Anisimova, losing three times on clay, with this being the underdog's first ever victory in Madrid.

A 6-2 3-6 6-4 triumph was sealed in an hour and 55 minutes, with Anisimova relishing the opportunity to take on one of the sport's foremost stars once more.

"It's always enjoyable to accept the challenge, even when it's a tough match, and push yourself and see how far you can go," she said.

While Anisimova can look forward to facing Petra Martic in round two, hers was not the only upset win, with Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko also ousted.

Pliskova lost in straight sets to fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, while Ostapenko went down in three to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

American teen Coco Gauff defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-0 6-2 and Victoria Azarenka beat Viktorija Golubic 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek had withdrawn from the clay-court tournament on Wednesday because of a sore arm.

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