Madrid, Spain, 4 May 2021 | Leigh Rogers

For the first time in their careers, the two most recent Roland Garros champions Ash Barty and Iga Swiatek have gone head-to-head.

Playing in the third round in Madrid, it was the Australian who came out on top.

“I really enjoyed myself out there,” Barty said after posting a 7-5 6-4 victory at the WTA 1000 tournament.

“I enjoyed the challenge. Iga’s game is exceptional. It’s really, really impressive. I love testing myself and trying to figure out the puzzle tonight and the challenges that she created for me. I love the way that she plays. I love the way she takes the game on. She plays without fear. I think the way she controls the court, has the ability to move and neutralize from defensive position is very, very impressive.”

The 19-year-old Pole started strongly, racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set.

“I think probably the first half an hour was a bit of an adjustment period for both of us,” Barty said. “It took me some time to get used to Iga’s weight of shot. Obviously, we had a game plan going into it, but I had to adjust that and had to kind of learn on the fly a little bit.”

The victory extends Barty’s winning streak on European clay to 14 matches. It also improves her head-to-head record against top 20-ranked opponents to 9-0 this season.

Czech Petra Kvitova awaits in the quarterfinals. The No.9 seed has won five of their previous nine meetings, although Barty has won four of their past five.

“I love to play Petra,” Barty said. “She brings out the best in me.”

Max Purcell and Luke Saville, playing their first tournament together since the Australian Open, enjoyed a successful reunion in men’s doubles action. They scored a first-round win against fellow Aussie John Peers and New Zealand’s Michael Venus.

Aussies in action – Madrid

RESULTS
Women’s singles, third round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS)
d (14) Iga Swiatek (POL) 7-5 6-4

Men’s doubles, first round
Max Purcell (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS) d John Peers (AUS)/Michael Venus (NZL) 7-6(9) 6-3

COMING UP
Women’s singles, quarterfinals
[1] Ash Barty (AUS)
v [9] Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Men’s singles,  first round
John Millman (AUS) v [12] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

Men’s singles, second round
Alex de Minaur (AUS)
v Lloyd Harris (RSA)

Women’s doubles, second round
Ellen Perez (AUS)/Zheng Saisai (CHN) v [5] Alexa Guarchi (CHI)/Desirae Krawczyk (USA)

Men’s doubles, second round
Max Purcell (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS) v [2] Nikola Mektic (CRO)/Mate Pavic (CRO)