Russian Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus highlighted Saturday's first-round winners at the $4.5 million Madrid Open.
Victoria Azarenka, ranked No.5 in the world and seeded No.4 in Madrid, took just 49 minutes to beat Vera Dushevina in her first match of the tournament, 6-0 6-0. Several of the games were close, with both players holding seven break points in the match - but Azarenka shone through on the big points, winning six of those seven opportunities while Dushevina went zero for seven.
"I felt very good out there," Azarenka commented after the match. "It was a bit cold and windy but I managed to play well in those conditions anyway."
Azarenka won back-to-back titles in Miami and Marbella in early April, but she was forced to retire during her first match in Stuttgart due to a shoulder injury. She seemed in perfect health Saturday. "My shoulder is good," the 21-year-old Belarusian said. "It was a smart decision to take a break, so I'm happy."
Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur both struggled against tricky clay court veterans but managed to move through as well. No.2 seed Zvonareva was the first of the pair to advance, getting past Patty Schnyder, 6-2 1-6 6-2.
No.10 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No.13 seed Andrea Petkovic, No.16 seed Petra Kvitova and unseeded players Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Dominika Cibulkova, Jarmila Gajdosova and Agnes Szavay also won first round matches. Cibulkova pulled off the only upset of the day, taking out No.12 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3 6-2. Gajdosova had the narrowest win of them all, saving two match points down 6-5 in the third set to beat Maria Kirilenko, 7-5 3-6 7-6(4) - the match featured 25 aces: Gajdosova 15, Kirilenko 10.