Wozniacki remains on course, Sharapova dispatches Begu

World number one is still in the sights of Caroline Wozniacki after she battled from 4-2 behind in the deciding set to beat Ashleigh Barty at the Madrid Open.

The Dane will rise to the top of the rankings if she claims the title in the Spanish capital, regardless of what Simona Halep does, and she showed her battling qualities on Monday.

Barty had fought back from a set down to move just two games away from victory in the second-round clash, but Wozniacki found an extra gear to set up a meeting with Kiki Bertens.

She is joined in round three by 2014 champion Maria Sharapova after she continued her impressive start, brushing aside Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5 6-1.

After dropping five games in her opening match with Silvia Soler Espinosa, Sloane Stephens produced an even more dominant display with a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of Sam Stosur.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova battled to a 6-2 1-6 7-5 victory over Victoria Azarenka after two hours and six minutes.

 

SHARAPOVA PROFITING FROM COACHING CHANGE

Sharapova arrived in Spain with a new coach by her side after parting company with Sven Groeneveld, and the switch seems to already be having an effect.

Thomas Hogstedt has renewed his alliance with the five-time grand slam champion and the early signs are promising after two comprehensive victories.

"There is never a bad time to make a good change," she said after dispatching Begu. "You do hope that those changes lead to better and good things.

"It's not because the past wasn't working, but because you believe that there could be better things to come.

"The result of seeing improvement is really nice to see."

PLISKOVA SURVIVES AZARENKA TEST

Pliskova stayed perfect in three-set matches this year with a tough victory over Azarenka, who played her first tournament on clay since the 2016 French Open.

The sixth-seeded Czech improved to 7-0 in three-set clashes in 2018, claiming the crucial break in the 12th game of the final set.

Awaiting Pliskova in the third round is Stephens.

KRISTINA KEEPS ROLLING

It has been a tough spell for Kristina Mladenovic, who had suffered four defeats in a row on the WTA Tour before her opening match with Coco Vandeweghe.

However, the Frenchwoman enjoyed her second victory in as many days with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Zhang Shuai - setting up a meeting with Sharapova.

Joining her in round three are Caroline Garcia and Julia Goerges after triumphs over Petra Martic and Lara Arruabarrena respectively.

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