Sports

Halep, Kvitova advance at Madrid Open

Madrid, May 7 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/7/2019 12:11:20 PM IST

Johanna Konta was unable to capitalise on a fine start as she fell to a second-round loss to third seed Simona Halep at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The British number one is having by far her best season on clay and reached the final of the WTA Tour event in Rabat last week before dashing to the Spanish capital and defeating Alison Riske in round one.

The heavy schedule looked like it might well have caught up with her as, after playing a fine opening set that she came close to winning, Konta fell away dramatically to go down 7-5 6-1.

Konta has only ever beaten one top-10 player on clay but she played a superb first six games and had a chance to lead 5-2.

She could not take it and Halep, the champion here in 2016 and 2017, fought back to level before forcing two set points at 5-4. Konta saved those but then missed more opportunities to lead 6-5 and Halep eventually converted her fifth set point.

The world number three put her foot down at the start of the second set and Konta won just two points in the first four games.

She dug in to at least get on the board but could not stall Halep’s momentum as the Romanian clinched victory in an hour and 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, holder Petra Kvitova blunted a late attack from France’s Kristina Mladenovic to advance 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) into the third round. The Czech second seed, chasing a fourth title on the Caja Magica clay, has now won her last five matches over qualifier Mladenovic in straight sets.

“It was a pretty difficult match. I fought hard in the end and that’s what counts,” the winner said,

“The clay conditions here are a bit different compared to other venues, so I needed time to fight it out.”

Kvitova took the opening set on a break and started the second set with another,

But Mladenovic broke back for 3-all and eventually forced the contest to a tiebreaker, which Kvitova captured.

“I had to fight, but I’m glad that I had this (kind of) match. Hopefully, it’s given me a bit more freedom for the next round,” last month’s Stuttgart clay winner said.

Djokovic cruises past Fritz
Launching his quest for a third Madrid title, Djokovic dismissed American qualifier Taylor Fritz, 6-4, 6-2, to roll into the Madrid round of 16.
The top seed tore through 12 straight points on serve to start. Staying in step with the former French Open champion through six games, Fritz battled bright sun and sharp Djokovic returns—and won neither test—in the seventh game. Squinting into the sun, Fritz scattered a few errors as Djokovic converted the first break point of the match.
Switching sides, the Serbian faced his own sun sight issues, but withstood the glare and a break point holding for 5-3 when Fritz sailed a forehand beyond the baseline. Spinning successive shots into the American’s backhand corner, Djokovic served out the 37-minute opener at 30.
Still, Djokovic’s shot-tolerance is greater than the 21-year-old American and he was more incisive opening the court with angles today.
The Australian Open champion’s smooth movement and sharp-angled returns earned him the first break of the second set for 2-1. That break was part of a five-game charge that saw Djokovic take complete command. The world No. 1 won 16 of the last 18 points played on his serve wrapping up a 65-minute triumph to improve to 25-8 lifetime in Madrid.
 

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