Two-time defending Madrid Open champion Simona Halep produced a flawless display against Ekaterina Makarova, as her battle with Caroline Wozniacki for world number one status got off to an intriguing start in the Spanish capital. Halep is looking to become the first woman to win three successive titles in Madrid and needs to achieve that milestone to guarantee she stays at the top of the rankings.
Halep breezes into the next round
Wozniacki began with a straight-sets win over Daria Gavrilova prior to Halep's encounter, the Dane only dropping four games. Halep responded in emphatic fashion with a 6-1 6-0 triumph over Makarova, who was completely outclassed by the top seed. There were early glimpses of promise from Makarova, particularly on her forehand, but they were interspersed with errors that enabled Halep to take control.
Halep was surprisingly broken in her second service game, yet it was a rare blip from the reigning champion as she quickly stamped her authority on proceedings. The Romanian was operating in a higher gear than the world number 32, and piled pressure on with deep groundstrokes and great touch on the rare occasions she approached the net.
Having wrapped up the first set in just over 20 minutes, Halep upped the tempo further and peppered the baseline with a string of pinpoint shots. Makarova's challenge quickly began to crumble and Halep was in no mood to let her momentum drop, finishing the Russian off in under an hour to send a reminder to Wozniacki.