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Halep sets up Badosa clash in Madrid after first win under Mouratoglou

Halep saw off Zhang Shuai of China in her first match since hiring the Frenchman as coach

Simona Halep Madrid 2022 April 26, 2022, MADRID, MADRID, SPAIN: Simona Halep of Romania with coach Patrick Mouratoglou during practice ahead of the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament || 229043_0013 2022 madrid mutua open PRESS spain sport tennis WTA zagency zselect ZSPORT ZTENNIS Zuma zwire

Former world No 1 Simona Halep made a confident start to life under the guidance of Patrick Mouratoglou as she beat Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Madrid Open on Thursday.

The Romanian came from a break down in the second set to clinch a convincing victory and now plays new world No 2 Paula Badosa of Spain in the second round.

Badosa beat Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-0, saving all five break points in the opening set and then ripping through the second to maintain her outstanding form, having become the new world No 2 on Monday.

Halep announced earlier this month that she had hired Mouratoglou as her full-time coach, looking to him to give her a chance of adding to her two Grand Slam titles and taking her back to the top of the game.

Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou Madrid 2022
Zuma / Panoramic

After a month away from the Tour through injury, Halep looked in good form on Thursday, hitting 13 winners as she outplayed Zhang.

“I think I stayed focused, I played aggressive when I needed to and used my legs,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “I think it was a good match, in my opinion and I played well, for my first match here and my first match in a month.”

Badosa, a semi-finalist in Madrid last year, was tested early on by Kudermetova but did not drop a point on serve in the second set, winning nine straight games from 3-3 to maintain her momentum.

“I was really nervous, coming back here as the world No 2. Playing my home tournament, you feel the nerves.”

Badosa and Halep will play each other for the first time in round two on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a really tough match. She’s a really great champion. I’m going to have to give my all if I want to win the match but I’m looking forward to it.”

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