WTA Madrid: Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova reach R2

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WTA Madrid: Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova reach R2

The two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep is through to the second round after a 6-0, 6-4 win over a qualifier Margarita Gasparyan in an hour and 14 minutes in their first meeting on the Tour. The 3rd seed needed just over 20 minutes to secure the opening set 6-0 and she opened a 5-2 advantage in set number two, missing the first chance to wrap up the triumph in game nine after wasting a match point before moving over the top with another break in the next game to book the place in the second round.

A qualifier Kristina Mladenovic needed an hour and 29 minutes to dismiss Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-1, suffering two breaks and dominating on the return to bring the match home in style. Five straight breaks of serve sent Kristina 6-3, 3-0 up and she grabbed another break at 4-1 to seal the deal with a hold in game seven for the eighth triumph this season.

In the battle of Spanish players with wild cards, Sara Sorribes Tormo ousted Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes, toppling the compatriot with three breaks in the decider for the 16th victory in 2019.

The 5th seed Karolina Pliskova took down the promising youngster Dayana Yastremska 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 17 minutes, saving four match points and delivering better tennis in the decider to avoid an early exit. Yastremska gave her best to stay in touch with the better-ranked opponent, saving a couple of break points at 5-5 and stealing Karolina's serve in the following game to secure the opener.

Leading 5-4 in set number two, Dayana squandered four match points on the return and lost the breaker 7-5 to keep the Czech in contention. With the momentum on her side, Pliskova controlled the pace behind the initial shot in the deciding set and broke a teenager at 4-3, moving over the top with an excellent hold a few minutes later.

The 8th seed Sloane Stephens ousted Polona Hercog 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 44 minutes, working hard on serve to fend off seven out of nine break points and stealing almost half of the return points to secure four breaks and the spot in the second round.