The 8th seed Sloane Stephens is through to the last 16 in Madrid after a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 triumph over Victoria Azarenka in two hours and six minutes, defeating the Belarusian for the fourth straight time. It was a high-quality match between two aggressive players and Stephens played better on the second serve, fending off four out of six break points and scoring three breaks from eight opportunities to advance into the third round.
Playing the second match with Sven Groeneveld in her box, the American hit the zone right from the start, dropping just six points behind the initial shot and securing a break in game ten when Victoria sent a backhand long.
Azarenka shifted into a higher gear in the second set, defending her serve nicely and moving in front in game three with a backhand down the line winner after a well-constructed attack. A forehand crosscourt running winner sent the Belarusian 5-2 up and she closed the set with an ace a few minutes later to set up a decider.
Stephens stopped her downfall in the third game of the final set when she saved a couple of break points, earning a break with a forehand winner at 3-2 and advancing with another break in game eight. World no. 7 Kiki Bertens took down Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 20 minutes, facing each other for the first time since Wimbledon 2016.
Firing 11 aces and fending off five out of seven break points, Bertens mount the pressure on the other side of the net and stole half of the return points, converting four out of seven to cross the finish line first and complete a great day at the office.
Kiki needed some time to find the range, trading breaks with Ostapenko earlier in the opener and repelling four break points in the fifth game to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Jelena got broken at love after a forehand error to hand the set to her rival, having to work harder in the rest of the encounter if she wanted to score a big win.
The second set kicked off with back-to-back breaks and Bertens grabbed 12 of the last 14 points from 3-3 to march over the finish line, breaking in game eight following a double fault from the Latvian and holding at 15 in the next game for the 20th triumph in 2019.
The 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes after a stellar performance. The Latvian defended the first and second serve like she could have only hoped for, losing 12 points in ten service games and never facing a break point.
Landing only 41% of the first serve in Buzarnescu was nowhere near that pace, facing five break points and getting broken once in each set to end her run in the second round. Sevastova moved ahead with a break in game six, wasting two set points at 5-2 before sealing the opener on own serve in the next game.
Buzarnescu fought well in set number two, staying competitive until 4-4 when Anastasija grabbed the crucial break that carried her over the top.