Halep marches on in Madrid, Svitolina exits

Simona Halep advanced to the third round of the Madrid Open while the talented Elina Svitolina crashed out on Tuesday.

The top seed was ruthless against challenger Elise Mertens, blazing to a 6-0, 6-3 victory in 72 minutes on the clay courts of the Spanish city.

The diminutive Romanian was flawless, saving three breakpoints while breaking Mertens five times on the way to an impressive victory that featured 23 winners.

“I think I played well again,” said the 26-year-old afterwards.

“It’s the second match of the tournament. I have a great feeling. It was a nice match, and I take it like an important one because I played against a girl that won two tournaments on clay so far this year.”

The win books Halep a date with Karolina Pliskova, who she leads 6-2 in their head-to-head, last beating her in straight sets to reach the final four of the Australian Open in January.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Svitolina was knocked out by Carla Suarez-Navarro, who came back from a set down to defeat the Ukranian 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in a thrilling affair.

Suarez-Navarro forced a second set tiebreaker to stay in the match before setting up the win with a final break to go 5-4 up in the third set. But Svitolina made the Spaniard work for it, saving four match points and forcing Suarez-Navarro to save a couple breakpoints in the exciting final game.

Elsewhere, tenth seed Petra Kvitova battled past Monica Puig 6-3, 7-6(8) to reach the third round.