Wozniacki off to winning start
Caroline Wozniacki (File)
Madrid - Top seed Caroline Wozniacki began her campaign at the ATP-WTA Madrid Masters on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Japan's Ayumi Morita.
Wozniaki is trying to break her duck at the majors after holding the top WTA ranking without the benefit of a title at one of the four majors.
French open champion Francesca Schiavone won her first clay court match of the season here, defeating China's Peng Shuai 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) to reach the second round.
The Italian third seed was beaten in her clay start this month in Stuttgart by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska. But with her Roland Garros title defence starting in three weeks, Schiavone got her game back on track in straight sets in Spain.
Schiavone spent two hours on court at the Caja Magica complex, facing only two break points from her 30th-ranked Chinese opponent who lost a semi-final on green clay in Charleston early in April.
Eighth seed Maria Sharapova got off to a struggling start in her first clay contest of the season, with the three-time grand slam champion coming through for a defeat of Alexandra Rus of the Netherlands 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The challenger saved a match point on her own serve before the Russian seed moved ahead into the second round on her second winning opportunity.
"She started well and playing aggressive," said the Russian, already training for a week in Madrid, "I was the tentative one and she took advantage.
"But I'm happy I was able to turn it around. It was my first match on clay in some time (almost a year). I was in a similar situation here last year and I lost.
"I'm happy I came back for the win."
Sharapova finished with a disappointing 37 unforced errors and just 14 winners on the high-altitude clay of the capital. The eighth seed converted on seven of 14 break points against her teenage opponent ranked 99th.
Slovak Daniela Hantuchova advanced over Japan's 40-year-old wonder Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 6-3 while Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja beat slumping Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 7-5.
The men were beginning their concurrent event, with Spanish tenth seed Nicolas Almagro facing Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Swiss number 14 Stanislas Wawrinka playing Spanish opposition in the form of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal admitted that he is feeling some of the pressure in playing at home in front of an adoring public which treats him like a tennis god.
"I had three days off with friends in Mallorca. I only did physical training, no tennis," said the world number one, who has gone undefeated on clay for 34 matches dating back to 2009.
"Playing in Spain creates so much pressure, always playing in front of your people."
The holder called his goals for the spring the same as usual. "The pressure does not change, there is always the danger to lose.
"My draw is not that favourable, I'm in a hard quarter, but you have to play your best in tournaments at this level, they are never easy."