World no. 18 Belinda Bencic has made a great start of the season on hard courts and she is enjoying her clay game as well, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in two hours and six minutes for the place in the third round and the 24th triumph in 2019.
Facing each other for the first time since Wuhan 2016, they pushed each other to the limits all the time, with five breaks for Belinda and six for the Russian who had the advantage in the second set before losing the momentum necessary to carry her in the decider.
Belinda led 4-2 in the first set before dropping three straight games, staying focused after that and taking six out of last seven points in the tie break to move closer to the finish line. Svetlana took charge in set number two with three breaks, having the upper hand and hoping for more of the same in the deciding set after missing many months due to an injury.
The decider saw five breaks in a row and Bencic grabbed three of those, opening a 4-2 lead and bringing the match home with two holds at love for the place in the last 16. Viktoria Kuzmova defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 37 minutes, repelling six out of eight break points and stealing rival's serve three times to book the place in the last 16.
The Slovak saved five break points at 2-3 in the opening set to remain in contention and won 12 of the final 16 points to grab it 6-4. Players traded breaks in games four and five in set number two and Kuzmova sailed towards the win in the tie break, taking it 7-2 to advance into the next round.
The 9th seed Ashleigh Barty is yet to find her 'A game' on clay and Madrid is a perfect ground for that, reaching the third round with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 victory over Danielle Collins in swift an hour and 22 minutes.
The Aussie played against three break points, suffering two breaks in set number two when Collins had the upper hand and dominating in sets she won, dropping only eight points on serve in the decider and earning two breaks that propelled her into the third round.
Yulia Putintseva needed two hours and 21 minutes to dismiss Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, with both players creating eight break chances. Yulia played better in the crucial moments, saving five of those and clinching five breaks to book the place in the last 16.
The defending champion Petra Kvitova battled past a qualifier Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 55 minutes, taking six points more than the French girl and saving three out of five break points to put the pressure on Kristina.
Working with Sascha Bajin, Mladenovic gave her best to stay competitive all the time, overcoming a deficit in the second set and standing two points away from the set three times. Petra stayed calm, bringing the 12th game home and securing the last three points of the match to remain on the title course.