Kvitova leads major champions through in Madrid

Published by AP

Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko all progress on the opening day of play at the Madrid Open.

Petra Kvitova has begun her title defence at the Madrid Open by dispatching Sofia Kenin of the United States 6-1 6-4.

Kvitova wasted little time imposing her will in the first-round match and raced to a 5-0 lead before Kenin got on the board.

It appeared to be headed for an early finish when the Czech world No.3 broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but Kenin fought back to level at 4-4 before Kvitova roared ahead once again before she served it out.

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Kvitova will face the winner between qualifier Kristina Mladenovic or Czech countrywoman Barbora Strycova in the second round.

The second-seeded Kvitova, a three-time champion in Madrid, is coming off a title in Stuttgart and is the only woman to win two tournaments this season.

She is the most successful women’s player in Madrid with 27 wins and only six losses. Her other titles in the Spanish capital came in 2011 and 2015.

Meanwhile, seventh-seeded Kiki Bertens advanced to the second round with a 6-3 6-2 win over Katerina Siniakova while Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova made the most of her wildcard to oust 10th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-4.

“After six months out, I played some good games, but I couldn’t manage (a good run),” Kuznetsova said in comments reported on wtatennis.com. “It’s very important to stay positive.

“It just brings confidence before the French Open and everything. I’m not seeded, so I don’t know who I’m going to get. I’m enjoying when I win big matches, big stages. I realise this is what makes me play good … these big events are what brings (out) the best of me.”

Other players to get out of the first round on Saturday were 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, Jelena Ostapenko, Victoria Azarenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Yulia Putintseva and Caroline Garcia.

Top-seeded Naomi Osaka will play her opening round on Sunday against Dominika Cibulkova.

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