Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari kicked off their campaigns at the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open with opening-round wins, as they advanced further in the loaded second quarter at the first WTA 1000 clay-court event of the season.
Former World No.1 Osaka, playing her first match since her run to the Miami Open final last month, dismissed qualifier Anastasia Potapova 6-3, 6-1 in a hair over an hour.
Earlier on Friday, No.4 seed Sakkari put her three-match losing skid to an end with a 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-4 comeback win over Madison Keys in two-and-a-half hours.
On Manolo Santana Stadium, Osaka looked in fine form in her first clay-court match of the season. Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka won 86 percent of her first-service points and converted five of her nine break points to sweep to victory.
It was a solid win over former No.1-ranked junior Potapova, who is only a few days removed from notching her first Hologic WTA Tour singles title and was on a winning streak.
Potapova claimed the crown as a qualifier in Istanbul on Sunday, returning to the Top 100 of the singles rankings. Potapova then came to Madrid and won two matches to qualify again, upping her run to nine straight wins spanning qualifying and main-draw matches.
Osaka, though, fought back from an early break down to win 10 of the last 11 games to make it into the Madrid second round for the third time. Osaka’s best Madrid showing is a quarterfinal run in 2019.
Earlier on Manolo Santana Stadium, Sakkari returned to the winner’s circle after over a month without a victory.
Sakkari reached the biggest final of her career at Indian Wells in March, but after falling to Iga Swiatek in that match, she dropped her opening contests in Miami and Stuttgart (via retirement in the latter).
World No.5 Sakkari is back on track after improving to 3-0 against Keys, despite losing her first set to the American in their rivalry. 22nd-ranked Keys gritted out the opening frame, with no service breaks by either player, after a grueling 68 minutes.
Sakkari: “I think the conditions suit Madison well here. When I saw the draw I thought that’s a tough first round. I just trusted my game.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 29, 2022
Sakkari used a deft lob to earn the first break of the day and lead 4-2 in the second set, and the Greek held on from there. There were five service breaks in the third set, and Sakkari grabbed the decisive one to lead 5-4, closing out the win in the next game with a forehand winner.
Sakkari will next face Daria Kasatkina in the second round, after Kasatkina overcame qualifier Anna Bondar from a set down. Kasatkina has won all three of their previous meetings, but they have not faced off since 2018.
More to come…