The Madrid round of 16 line-up has been confirmed after the eight second round matches were finished on Tuesday. There are some brilliant matches and thus I have previewed all the eight third round matches. Click here for previews for Mladenovic-Sharapova and Ka.Pliskova-Stephens, and read on for previews for Muguruza-Kasatkina, Kvitova vs Kontaveit and more…
1.  Garbine Muguruza (No.3) vs  Daria Kasatkina (No.15)
Muguruza has been largely unconvincing in her first two rounds at the Mutua Madrid Open but nevertheless, a win is a win and hopefully the confidence will come back. Muguruza needed to come from a set down to defeat Donna Vekic – from the highlights, it looked like her net play was in ruins but a good display of serving in the decider (80% first serves won, no break points faced) helped her to outlast a physically struggling Croatian. The Spaniard will now play Kasatkina for a spot in the quarters; the pair had previously played epic three-setters in Dubai (this year) and Brisbane (last year) and thus setting the tone for another epic encounter this time, on the dirt.
Since reaching the Indian Wells final, Kasatkina hasn’t been really able to get her game going but a return to European clay seems to have lifted her spirits up – two straight-set wins over Wang Qiang and Sorana Cirstea is a good result. I do think Kasatkina will be able to notch the upset win if she does play her free flowing tennis. Muguruza never seems to be able to play her best tennis in Madrid and I don’t really think the partisan crowd will affect Kasatkina too much.
Final Prediction: Daria Kasatkina d. Garbine Muguruza in three sets
2.  Petra Kvitova (No.10) vs Anett Kontaveit (No.29)
Kvitova has restarted another of her winning streaks and the win total is up to seven now after two straight-set wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Monica Puig. Kvitova is once again showing that playing two straight weeks is no problem for her and as a two-time champion in Madrid, she definitely knows how to play here. Her next opponent will be Kontaveit – not an easy feat and she’ll know that after edging past her in three difficult sets last year in Cincinnati. Kontaveit’s a confidence player and that level seems sky high right now since Stuttgart. She saved a match point to beat Kristina Mladenovic in the first round, and since then, she’s been on fire.
Kvitova will expect the same kind of challenge she had against Puig yesterday. Kontaveit’s a hard-hitter and will pressurise her at every point she can. I’m still inclined to go with Kvitova’s winning streak and experience, because we know Kontaveit can get tight during the important moments.
Final Prediction: Petra Kvitova d. Anett Kontaveit in three sets
3.  Simona Halep (No.1) vs Kristyna Pliskova (No.94)
Kristyna seems to have found her form during the clay swing with quarterfinal runs in Charleston and Prague, and now reaching the third round of the Premier Mandatory event to set up a meeting with the World No.1 Halep. To be honest, I don’t think Kr.Pliskova stands any chance of beating Halep – the Romanian is just on fire in Madrid and doesn’t seem like she knows how to lose here! On clay, Halep will be able to have more time to set up her shots and exploit Kr.Pliskova’s movement.
Final Prediction: Simona Halep d. Kristyna Pliskova in two sets
4. Bernarda Pera (No.97) vs Carla Suarez Navarro (No.25)
Pera’s one of the stories of the week and of the season as she has made storylines in Madrid once again by beating Johanna Konta for the second straight time this year. Starting the year ranked No.128, she’s projected to break into the world’s top 70 after this week. It’s possible she’ll be even higher ranked if she progresses into the next round but I doubt she’ll be able to beat Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard was fantastic against Elina Svitolina and even though it’s a quick turnaround for her after an epic three-setter yesterday, I believe her clay court credentials will be too strong for the American.
Final Prediction: Carla Suarez Navarro d. Bernarda Pera in two sets
Madrid predictions can be found here or at the top of the page!