Halep knocked out of Madrid Open by Mertens

Simona Halep sailed through the first two rounds on the Spanish clay without dropping a set, but she ended up second best in a match which yielded 15 breaks of serve.

Romania's Simona Halep returns the ball to Belgium's Elise Mertens during their 2021 WTA Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament singles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on 4 May 2021. Picture: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

MADRID - World number three Simona Halep was dumped out of the Madrid Open on Tuesday, losing 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the round of 16 to the Belgian Elise Mertens.

Halep had sailed through the first two rounds on the Spanish clay without dropping a set, but she ended up second best in a match which yielded 15 breaks of serve.

Halep produced 10 double faults in the match, Mertens nine.

Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one, was twice a break-up in the final set at 3-1 and 4-3 but finally succumbed after just over two and a half hours of play.

In the quarterfinals, 13th seed Mertens will meet the Belarusian seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, who dispatched American Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-2 in just 52 minutes.

Two other quarterfinal line-ups are also settled with world number one Ashleigh Barty set to meet ninth seed Petra Kvitova while eighth seed Belinda Bencic is up against unseeded Spaniard Paula Badosa, ranked 62 in the world.

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