Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova


STUTTGART, Germany — Simona Halep returned from injury to start her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and in only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her win over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point. She plays either eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty in the quarterfinals by beating former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit after the Estonian eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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