Elise Mertens stuns two-time Madrid Open champion Simona Halep in the third round
Elise Mertens knocked out two-time Madrid Open champion Simona Halep in the third round in the Spanish capital.
Third seed Halep won the title at the Caja Magica in 2016 and 2017 and was a finalist again the last time the tournament was held in 2019 but she was eventually worn down by the dogged defence of Mertens.
The Belgian was a set down and appeared to be on the back foot in both the second and third sets but eventually battled to a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory after two hours and 34 minutes.
A first #MMOPEN quarterfinal for the Belgian!
— wta (@WTA) May 4, 2021
Halep said: “She played really well, and she definitely deserved to win because she was stronger in the end. I cannot say I played bad, but I did some mistakes, important mistakes. Sometimes it’s just a little bit and the match is going away.”
In the quarter-finals, Mertens will play fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who eased to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jessica Pegula.
Meanwhile, former Wimbledon semi-finalist and doubles champion Barbora Strycova has announced her retirement.
— Barbora Strycova (@BaraStrycova) May 4, 2021
The Czech, who reached the last four at the All England Club in 2019 and won the women’s doubles title with Hsieh Su-wei, is pregnant with her first child.
Strycova wrote on social media: “Some moments in life just can’t be planned and I am super excited for my next life role as a mom. It doesn’t mean that I will accept that fact that I didn’t play my last match in front of an audience. Once it’s possible, I will play one last match.. in front of you. To say proper goodbye.”
The 35-year-old’s last appearance was at the Australian Open in February, where she lost in the first round of the singles and the second round of the doubles.
Andy Murray gives positive assessment of week in Rome, saying ‘I’m happy I came over here’
Murray has been practising with top players.
Rafael Nadal saves two match points as he battles back from the brink against Denis Shapovalov
The Spaniard was far from his best against Shapovalov.
Coco Gauff savours Aryna Sabalenka victory, insists ‘I have no pressure’ ahead of Ashleigh Barty clash
“It will be great to see where my level is,” says Gauff.
‘It wasn’t fun. It was kind of brutal for me,’ admits Iga Swiatek after tough win over Barbora Krejcikova
Iga Swiatek saved two match points in Rome.
Major coup for Emilia-Romagna Open as Serena Williams changes plans and adds event to her schedule
Serena Williams off to Parma next week.
‘It was nice to see them back,’ says Novak Djokovic as fans return to watch him win at Italian Open
Another win for Novak Djokovic at the Italian Open.
Matteo Berrettini’s improvement paying off as Italian recaptures good form in 2021
Oli Jefford explains why Matteo Berrittini has the potential become one of the biggest names in tennis.
‘It’s just a matter of time’ before she will be ‘raring to go’ on clay, says Serena Williams
“It is what it is,” says Serena Williams.
Rafael Nadal gives his verdict on ‘complete player’ Jannik Sinner after Italian Open victory
“He’s still improving all the time,” says Nadal about Sinner.
‘It’s a special win,’ says Nadia Podoroska after upsetting Serena Williams at Italian Open
Williams was playing the 1,000 match of her career.