MADRID, Spain - Simona Halep leads the pack on the last day of second round action at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Tuesday, Second Round
Simona Halep (ROU #7) vs Karin Knapp (ITA #75)
Head-to-head: Halep leads 1-0
Key Stat: Knapp (122 minutes) has spent twice as long on court as Halep (58 minutes) in Madrid
The 2014 Madrid finalist`s season has so far unfolded in fits and starts: Halep posted solid quarterfinal appearances at Indian Wells and Miami, as well as second round exits at Doha and Stuttgart. She`s nonetheless adjusted well to the altitude and conditions in Madrid and dropped just three games in her opening match.
"It was a good match, a good start for me," Halep said. "I had a good start because I was confident, and practicing very well the last few days here."
By contrast, Halep`s opponent has spent much of her season dealing with a right knee injury, and has only played three matches so far this year. Though each one ended in a first round loss, Knapp has showed her grit in the last two, taking her opponents to three sets. But Halep is the first Top 20 player Knapp has had to face, and she might be too much for the recovering Italian.
The matchup could ultimately come down to Halep`s health, which has been a source of woe for the Romanian in 2016. Though she`s still recovering from the breathing difficulties and ankle injury that sent her crashing out of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, she showed none of those symptoms during her 58-minute demolition of Misaki Doi in the last round. A repeat performance against Knapp would see her advance comfortably to the round of 16.
Samantha Stosur (AUS #23) vs  Lucie Safarova (CZE #13)
Head-to-head: Safarova leads 11-3
Key Stat: Safarova has won all three of their encounters on clay
Lucie Safarova and Samantha Stosur are two players familiar with each other: they`ve played 14 times previously, and their latest encounter is probably still fresh in their memory. They played a few days ago in the final of the J&T Banka Prague Open - Safarova came back from a set down run away with the match and the title, her first on clay since 2005.
Both of them made the change from Prague to Madrid with ease, despite the less than ideal turnaround time: after their Saturday final in Prague, the two shared the same flight to the Spanish capital and played their opening matches at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.
"It`s gonna be a late night tonight, and I know Lucie and I are on the same flight," Stosur said after their final. "We`ll both be in the same boat but that`s the way it goes sometimes.
"It`s not ideal preparation, but to be in a final - you`d take that any day."
With both of them fighting fatigue, Stosur is eager to grab a chance at redemption against her Czech nemesis. She had Safarova under pressure in their Prague final, and without the effect of the partisan home crowd she could seal the victory.
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