Simona Halep reminded everyone at the Madrid Open of the prowess that delivered her two-gram slam titles by defeating the world number two Paula Badosa 6-3 6-1 to reach the third round.
Former World No.1 Halep, who won the Madrid title back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 and has reached the final two additional times, emerged victorious in her first meeting with surging Badosa after 1 hour and 16 minutes of play.
Unseeded in the Spanish capital, she was aggressive from the outset as she broke Badosa three times to clinch the opening set and took that momentum into the second, racing to a 3-0 lead before Badosa called the trainer for a shoulder problem.
The break did not help her cause as Halep sealed a dominant win.
Simona Halep, under new stewardship, will next take on No.14 seed Coco Gauff in the third round, after Gauff outlasted Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
Halep holds a 2-0 win-loss record against Gauff.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur overcame a second-set wobble to topple Varvara Gracheva 7-5 0-6 6-4 to reach the next round in another encounter.
Eighth seed Jabeur had to survive a double break in the decider to set up a meeting with Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, who got the better of Karolina Muchova 6-3 4-6 7-5.
Earlier, in the day, double Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka found a way past Tamara Zidansek 3-6 6-1 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes to progress to the last 16, where she will play Amanda Anisimova following the American’s 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over Petra Martic.