Madrid | Garcia, Gauff and Linette exit as Sabalenka, Sakkari and Samsonova advance to Last 16

There were upsets at the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday as Mayar Sherif up-ended 5th-seeded Caroline Garcia, Paula Badosa took out World No 6 Coco Gauff and teenager Mirra Andreeva stunned Magda Linette, the No 17 seed, but Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari and Liudmila Samsonova all advanced to the Round of 16.

I didn't expect to be here and playing Sabalenka in the Round of 16... I have nothing to lose. I just have to go there and show the best tennis I can. There is no pressure at all for me. There is some pressure on her, I think, because she’s going to play a 16-year-old girl. Mirra Andreeva

Sherif, who hails from Egypt and is ranked 59, shocked Garcia, 7-6(2) 6-3, notching up her career-best win by way of ranking after she converted 4 of the 7 break points she earned against the Frenchwoman.

The Egyptian is on a bit of a run in Madrid, having successfully dealt with Italy’s Camilla Giorgi, and Anhelina Kalinina, the 30th seed from Ukraine, before taking out Garcia to set up a 4th-round meeting with Belgian Elise Mertens, the No 24 seed, who was a 6-3 6-4 winner over Germany’s Jule Niemeier on Saturday.

Spanish No 1 Badosa may be ranked 42 these days, but she has been as high as World No 2 so it is, perhaps, no surprise that she dominated 19-year old Gauff, winning 6-3 6-0 in 71 minutes.

“I’m proud of myself,” Badosa said after her win. “In this court with all the crowd supporting you, it makes me feel like everything, it’s worth it.”

It was billed as a big showdown but turned out to be an anti-climax as Badosa dominated from the start, hammering the Gauff forehand side until the American broke down completely.

Badosa had needed 3 sets to get past Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto in her 2nd-round match, but thrilled the Manolo Santana Stadium home crowd with her impeccable performance on this day.

The Spaniard started a big surge up the rankings two years ago in Madrid, when she reached the semi-finals of her homeland’s WTA 1000 event as a wild-card ranked 62, which kick-started her rise to No 2 exactly 12 months later.


Paula Badosa dominated Coco Gauff, winning in straight sets to play Maria Sakkari in the Last 16 at La Caja Magica in Madrid

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

On Saturday, she showed her top form again against Gauff to earn her 10th win over a Top 10 player in her career, and her second in 2 weeks, along with her Stuttgart dismissal of No 8 Daria Kasatkina.

Both went on the attack early, and there were break points in each of the first 5 games, but Badosa came out of that stretch up a break at 3-2, and she took command by consolidating for 4-2 with a powerful rally forehand winner on game point.

Badosa held onto her lead through 5-3, where she drew 4 consecutive forehand errors from Gauff to break the American to love and seal the opening frame, having converted half of her 6 break points in the first set.

The Spaniard forced another batch of forehand errors 2 games later to break Gauff for 2-0 in the second, and she rolled on from there, reeling off the last 8 games of the match.

Badosa improved her head-to-head record against Gauff to 3-1 by taking their first meeting on clay after 3 previous matches on hard courts.

The Spaniard won 69% of her first-serve points and 50% of her second-serve points, while she also won 58% points on return of Gauff’s first serve, and 75% points on return on the American’s second serve.

She saved 2 of 3 break points she faced in the first set, while converting 6 break points on the teenager’s serve.


A dejected Coco Gauff could find no answers to Paula Badosa's attack on her forehand on Saturday

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

Badosa will next face Sakkari, the No 9 seed from Greece, who outlasted another Spaniard, wild-card Rebeka Masarova, 3-6 6-3 6-3, after 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Sakkari had to come from a set down to prevail in a match that spilled into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Masarova was a set away from the first Top 10 win of her career, but Sakkari battled back and prevailed at 1.15 am local time.

The Greek finished the match by saving 17 of the 20 break points she faced, and converting 5 of 14 break points she had on Masarova’s serve.

Badosa and Sakkari have split their two previous meetings, the Spaniard winning their round-robin match on their WTA Finals debuts in 2021, but the Greek took her revenge in the 2022 Indian Wells semi-finals, ending Badosa’s title defence there.

“Maria, she’s a very good player, very intense,” Badosa said. “I really love how she competes.

“I really like players like that, that they give all on court, and they go for it no matter what. I really respect these kind of players.”


Mirra Andreeva celebrated her 16th birthday by upsetting Magda Linette, the 17th seed, on Saturday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Elsewhere, another wild-card, Mirra Andreeva from Russia, celebrated her 16th birthday by continuing her run of upsets in Madrid with a 6-3 6-3 win over Poland’s Madga Linette.

Two multi-deuce games began the contest, and both were won by Andreeva, which set the tone for the teenager’s latest win.

She held serve on her 3rd game point and broke the 17th seed from 40-15 to take a lead she would not relinquish.

Andreeva broke Linette’s serve 4 times, and, after she was broken in the 5th game of the second set, did not lose her serve again.

Crucially, she saved the only 2 break points she faced after that, at 2-1 in the second set, and kept that lead until she finished the match with her final break.

“She’s an amazing player because she plays so consistent,” Andreeva said. “She doesn’t miss a lot.

“I tried to just play my game. I just tried to cut the rhythm a lot. … I tried to play aggressive and I made it through.”

Andreeva has now won her last 16 matches at all levels, and has not lost since the Australian Open junior final where she ended up as the runner-up.

Already the 7th youngest player since 2000 to score a Top 20 win when she beat No 13 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil in the 2nd-round, Andreeva made it two straight against players in that ranking range by knocking off Linette in an hour and 27 minutes.

The Russian teenager will be the next opponent for another player who excelled Down Under this year when she faces Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka on Monday.

“I didn’t expect to be here and playing Sabalenka in the Round of 16,” Andreeva told the Tennis Channel. “I’m not really surprised with my level, because I know the way I can play on the court … but, of course, I didn’t expect to be here and go this far.

“I have nothing to lose. I just have to go there and show the best tennis I can.

“There is no pressure at all for me. There is some pressure on her, I think, because she’s going to play a 16-year-old girl. Most probably, we will play on some stadium, so I’m excited to do that.”.


World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka made it through a tough encounter with Camila Osorio but prevailed to meet teenager Mirra Andreeva in the Round of 16

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Sabalenka, who won Madrid in 2021, survived a tough encounter with Colombia’s Camila Osorio, 6-4 7-5, the Belarusian pounding 25 winners against the 22-year-old.

“I’m happy with the win,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player and she fought for every point. It was a really great match.”

Coming off a strong win over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in her opening round, Sabalenka held off a spirited challenge from Osorio, who is ranked 115 after coming off a one-month injury break, and needed a wild-card to make the main draw.

Ultimately Sabalenka’s power game proved too hard for Osorio to handle, who, after falling behind an early break at 3-1, gamely battled her way back into the match.

She fended off 2 break points to close the gap to 3-2 and then, with the Spanish crowd behind her, the 22-year-old Colombian broke Sabalenka to level the first set.

Sabalenka quickly settled herself after her error-prone stretch, broke for a second time to lead 5-4, and held her nerve in a deuce game to serve out the opening set.

The Belarusian clinically moved ahead in the second, building a double-break lead at 4-1, when Osorio took a medical time-out to assess her left hip and leg.

On resumption, Osorio broke Sabalenka for the first time in the set, closing the deficit to 4-3, and set about another come-back attempt, breaking Sabalenka again as she served for the match at 5-4.

“That’s something that I expected, especially against players like her,” Sabalenka said. “She can return, she can play long rallies, and she can come back to the match.

“I just kept telling myself I have to keep going for my shots and I just have to make her move because she’s not going to move all day long. Once I will get this approach shot and I will be able to finish the point.

“So I was just telling myself to keep going for my shots and don’t start panicking.”

Opting to keep the points shorter, Sabalenka pounded her way to a 5th and final break of Osorio’s serve to earn a second chance to serve out the win, and, this time, she did not falter, sealing the match after nearly in an hour and 57 minutes.

Meanwhile, Samsonova, the 14th-seeded Russian, had an easy win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia, 6-2 6-0, in just 62 minutes, and next will meet the No 31 seed, Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania, who moved past 33rd-seeded American Shelby Rogers, 7-5 6-2.


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