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Sun shines for Naomi Osaka in Madrid as she passes first clay test


Naomi Osaka passed her first clay-court test of the season with flying colors, snapping the nine-match winning streak of Anastasia Potapova with a smooth 6-3, 6-1 victory to reach the second round of the Madrid Open.

The former world No.1, who received entry into the tournament via a wildcard, needed just 61 minutes to ease past Russia’s Potapova, who was coming off a title run in Istanbul last week and had won nine consecutive matches on clay coming into their showdown.

“I wouldn’t say it was an easy match, I feel like I just adjusted a little bit. It’s really good to be playing on clay again,” Osaka said.

She next takes on home favorite Sara Sorribes Tormo or last year’s Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Osaka hit six aces and dropped just three points behind her first serve in her first meeting with Potapova.

Earlier in the day, former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu recorded her first top-50 victory on clay with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 dismissal of American Alison Riske.

“I have to say that compared to last year, this year is much, much better. I was in quarantine last year because I caught COVID, so to be here actually playing the tournament this year is incredible,” said Andreescu, who takes on Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the second round.

No.4 seed Maria Sakkari survived a tough 2½ hours with American power-hitter Madison Keys, saving five out of seven break points en route to a 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, 6-4 result.

The 26-year-old Greek, who next faces Russian former top-10 player Daria Kasatkina, picked up her first victory since losing the Indian Wells final to Iga Swiatek nearly six weeks ago, having lost her Miami opener and having retired during her Stuttgart first round last week.

“Obviously Madi is a big-hitter, I think conditions suit her well here,” Sakkari told reporters in Madrid on Friday.

“When I saw the draw, I was like, ‘F***, that’s a first round’, you know. There are a lot of tough first rounds here.

“I just trusted my game, first set we couldn’t break each other so it was pretty even. I was unlucky in a few moments in the tiebreak. But overall I think it was a very positive match to get myself back into the winning feeling.”

Three-time Madrid champion Petra Kvitova was sent packing 6-3, 7-5 by Swiss lefty Jil Teichmann, who next faces last year’s U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez.

Canadian Fernandez overcame German qualifier Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to post her first-ever victory in Madrid.

Fernandez and her father are huge Real Madrid fans and the 19-year-old said she feels extra motivated to make it deep into the tournament this week so she is still around for Los Blancos’ Champions League semifinal second leg against Manchester City on Wednesday.

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