The last 16 of the WTA Mutua Madrid Open is full of top level talent from the women’s game. Monday’s action saw some mouth-watering matches take place and Tuesday promises to be just as good. Headlining the day’s action is two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep. The Romanian looks in superb form on her favourite surface and will be a real threat at the French Open if she maintains this level. We take a look at how she and the rest of the field should get on in our WTA Madrid Open Day 6 )redictions.
WTA Madrid Day 6 Predictions
Jennifer Brady vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Head-to-head: First meeting
This is an intriguing encounter between two top players on the women’s tour. Jennifer Brady has risen rapidly to the top of the women’s game in the last 12 months while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been one of the most consistent performers on the WTA Tour over the last decade. The Russian is probably more comfortable on this surface than Brady is. However, Brady has shown she is more than capable on the red dirt with two solid wins so far this week. Brady has the bigger weapon in her huge forehand, but Pavlyuchenkova is slightly more complete. On clay I have to give the edge to the Russian as I don’t think Brady’s game translates well enough yet for a deep run in such a big tournament.
Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova in 3
Aryna Sabalenka vs Jessica Pegula
Head-to-head: 1 – 1
Jessica Pegula has been in superb form since the tour resumed last August. She will also be the fresher of the two in this match after being given a walkover in the last round. Until this year I would have said both of these players were equally uncomfortable on clay. However, Sabalenka has made huge strides on the surface in 2021 and so now that honour lies solely with Pegula. The American is a smart tennis player who is strong on both wings and moves well. However, Sabalenka has a bit more power in every department and has shown variety she lacked previously both in Madrid and in her run to the final in Stuttgart last week. The Belarusian’s breakout year should continue with another good showing this week in Madrid.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 2
Karolina Muchova vs Maria Sakkari
Head-to-head: 1 – 0 Sakkari
This could well be the match of the day in Madrid. Both Karolina Muchova and Maria Sakkari are incredible movers, particularly on clay. They both possess great variety, touch and power off both wings as well. Sakkari holds the edge on serve while Muchova is more comfortable at the net. I suspect this match will feature several long and spectacular rallies and should go the distance if both play at their best. Muchova will be high on confidence after picking up her third top ten win of the season last round against Naomi Osaka. Equally, Sakkari has played incredible tennis so far this year and has a newfound confidence in her game this season. This one is hard to call, but I’m going to give the edge to Sakkari because she has been aggressive in big moments so far this year and that tends to work in her favour more often than not in close matches.
Prediction: Sakkari in 3
Elise Mertens vs Simona Halep
Head-to-head: 4 – 1 Halep
This is another must-see matchup in Madrid. Simona Halep is playing some of her best tennis at the moment and Elise Mertens’ level isn’t far behind. Halep is arguably the best clay court player on the women’s tour and has won the majority of her career titles on the surface. She has also won this tournament twice, so she knows what it takes to go the distance in Madrid. However, Mertens is no slouch on clay and has two tour titles herself on the red dirt. Halep’s best is a notch higher than the Belgian’s and so I am going to give Halep the edge in this one. Halep has won all three of their clay court encounters without dropping a set and is the deserved favourite as a result. It should be an epic match, but I expect the “pocket rocket: Romanian to come through in the end.
Prediction: Halep in 2
Main Photo from Getty.