The WTA main draw got underway on Saturday in a day full of emotion and excitement at the Caja Mágica, with some of the main contenders for the crown at the Mutua Madrid Open stepping onto the clay and taking their first steps towards glory in the Spanish capital.
Lara Arruabarrena was the toast of the local crowd as she emerged victorious in an all-wildcard clash. Up against Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who at just 15 seems destined to be a fixture of the WTA circuit for years to come, the Tolosa-born Spaniard ran out 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 winner in a back-and-forth game that lasted an hour and forty minutes. Hers was an effort that went acknowledged by the home crowd, who applauded the Basque player off the court.
Fourth seed Elina Svitolina got the day’s play underway by seeing off France’s Alizé Cornet in 71 minutes. The 23-year-old world number four broke her opponent five times in a match notable for how she returned serve.
The win means that Svitolina might could play in one of the ties of the round next up as she awaits the winner of Carla Suárez Navarro versus Barbora Strycova.
In the night session’s first match, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit caused a surprise as she defeated American Venus Williams 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an encounter lasting an hour and 54 minutes. The 2010 finalist was unable to halt her opponent’s comeback and was defeated on the clay at the Manolo Santana Stadium.
Karolina Pliskova laid down a marker in Madrid as she defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-2. The Czech’s powerful style transferred well to the altitude of the Caja Mágica, and she was able to win 75% of the points on her first serve. She will face either Victoria Azarenka or Aleksandra Krunic in the second round.
Meanwhile, seventh seed Caroline Garcia saw off 2016 finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 7-5. The French player, who took nine of the 10 break points she earned, showed her resistance on the clay at the Manolo Santana Stadium.
In the day’s other games, Croatia’s Petra Martic beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2 in a match that lasted an hour and 17 minutes. Eleventh seed Julia Goerges saw off Hungary’s Timea Babos 6-2, 6-4, while Holland’s Kiki Bertens defeated Maria Sakkara of Greece 6-4, 6-4.