With half a dozen matches on at the same time, it was a frantic day on the women’s side in Madrid, as they wrapped up the remaining 26 first round matches at the Mutua Madrid Open. René Denfeld recaps some of the matches and results of the day on the women’s side.
It might have been a Sunday — but it felt more like the the first day of a Grand Slam on the women’s side of the draw at the Mutua Madrid Open today. With a total of 26 matches being played, there was something for everyone at the Caja Magica — and almost too much for the rest.
Early on Estadio 3, Roberta Vinci and Angelique Kerber were the first two seeds of the day to fall as each went down in straight sets. Dispatched at the hands of Danka Kovinic, Vinci admitted that her foot had been troubling her previously and she didn’t get a lot of time on the practice courts in advance of the tournament — but Kerber’s loss was a result of the traveling and matches she played in April finally taking their toll.
“I think to be honest I’m really tired and didn’t play my best tennis today,” Kerber said after her 6-4, 6-2 loss to a rock-solid Barbora Strycova. “I made a lot of unforced errors. I was trying in the second set to find the rhythm and come back but I was not able to play my game actually today.
“My back is a little bit stiff but I think my whole body is a little bit tight and stiff from the last matches especially on clay so I will make sure I will have a good recovery in the next few days — to be in shape again.”
On Court Manolo Santana, neither home favorite, Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro, had the easiest of times in getting their first wins under their belts. Suarez Navarro dropped the opening set against a strong-serving Timea Babos before rallying for the 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win, whereas the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up had to work hard towards the end of the second set in order to get a straight-sets victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
“In Madrid, we have this extra because I’m here at home,” Muguruza said after her 6-2, 7-5 triumph. “Perhaps you’re a little bit more nervous because of that — but my first feeling is that I’m satisfied for winning the match, fighting, as I have fought a lot. We don’t have so many tournaments in Spain. This is almost the only one for women’s. It’s such a big event also in our calendar.
I think it’s an extra motivation also to feel the support of the crowd because they’re really into us, the Spanish people. I just want to give my best level even more to show to my crowd that, ‘Hey, I’m playing good.’ I think it’s a combination of everything.”
“Whenever you come to Madrid you know what can happen to you, the nerves that you can have,” Suarez Navarro added. “In the end, these are normal days. You to try to overcome it and manage it.
“I just need hours of matches, hours of points, hours of competition. Well, if you win in two sets it’s always better. You’re always happier. It’s true that it was a three-set match, but it wasn’t a match with very long points. Not very long rallies. I think it’s something that can be positive and good for me for the next match.”
Victoria Azarenka can tell a similar tale about looking for positives, particularly during the first set against the returning Laura Robson. The Brit is currently trying to find her footing on tour again but results haven’t come easily to her over the course of the past few months — however, the lefty’s level in the opener was encouraging as she found several booming forehand winners down the line that caught Azarenka off-balance.
The Belarusian, despite the 6-4, 6-2 scoreline, wasn’t completely happy with her opening performance, but as they say — a win is a win.
“I think I’m very critical towards myself — the way I saw the match is not the way for example my coach saw the match and to me it didn’t look as good but overall I was,” Azarenka said. “First matches are always tricky, especially against opponents you kind of know but you never played against. I’m glad that in the important moments I took my opportunities, I played well in those important moments and closed out the match, so I’m happy about that.
“Fitness is fine…I didn’t feel my greatest movement today out there, [but] it has a lot to do with the opponent. We didn’t have too many long rallies, [and] it was more about the first couple of shots, so it was difficult to really test out my movement. On the practice court I’ve been feeling fine, so I think as I said earlier in the year, it’s going to be a process for me the whole year — I want to keep improving and that’s the main goal.”
In one of the tougher draws of the day, Rabat champion Timea Bacsinszky faced Andrea Petkovic in the first round — just about 24 hours after winning her first title of the year. Petkovic looked in good form in Stuttgart, despite falling — not just on court but also at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska last week. Recognizing that there was the potential for a tough contest, Bacsinszky herself said afterward that it wasn’t necessarily about how she was going to win, but just about getting the job done.
“I was aware that I would have a low in my match,” she explained after her 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory. “I said, ‘Okay…you’re going to need to adapt, you’re going to have your chances — just [be] okay…get into it.’ At the end of the first…it’s going great and then [I had] so many chances to break and…I didn’t have the tension to be, like, really committed on the important points because I didn’t have the power for that, so I was angry about myself. I was thinking like long-term wise — it’s going to be a long match, so that’s why I tried to kick my butt [into gear] at the beginning of the third.”
In what was a mixed bag for the seeds on day two in Madrid, No. 14 Ana Ivanovic edged qualifier Katerina Siniakova, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 while Czechs Lucie Safarova (No. 11) and Karolina Pliskova (No. 13) each advanced in two sets. Laura Siegemund continued her incredible spring with an upset of the No. 9 seed, and last year’s runner-up, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 — and there was one final surprise in store for the end of the day. In the final match on Sunday’s order of play, top-seeded Radwanska fell to Dominika Cibulkova, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 — as the Slovak hung on to win in a decider despite letting a *5-3 lead in the second set slip away.