September 28, 2021

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WTA Madrid – Thursday wrap-up and Friday preview

Kvitova

(Mutua Madrid Open/Alberto Nevado)

The best part of a full 64-player draw is that there are no first-round byes.

And so, even on the first day of what is scheduled to be a 10-day tournament, some of the best players in the world were already in action at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Whatever the reasons for stretching the event out, and staggering the start of the men’s and women’s tourneys, it allows the women to have the spotlight all to themselves for a few days.

The men’s draw will take place Friday at 6:30 p.m. (Madrid time), with the qualifying to begin on Saturday and the main draw on Sunday.

With a 56-player draw, the top eight seeds – that looks to be Nadal, Medvedev, Thiem, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Rublev, Schwartzman and Berrettini – will get first-round byes.

Here are the final results for the WTA, for Thursday.

No. 1 Ashleigh Barty meets Shelby Rogers – again

It was the fourth time this season that Ashleigh Barty met Shelby Rogers. And the American gave Barty a tough go two of the three previous times.

But the 2019 French Open champion prevailed routinely, 6-2, 6-1 and will face qualifier Tamara Zidansek in the second round.

Iga Swiatek back for the clay

Barty’s successor as Roland Garros champion has played relatively little since leaving Australia in February.

She played two matches in in Dubai (losing to Garbiñe Muguruza) and two more in Miami (losing to wild card Ana Konjuh.

And yet, she was the co-favorite to win the whole thing, before the tournament.

Swiatek is making her clay debut in Madrid this year. And even if she eased past Alison Riske, 6-1, 6-1 (Riske has played even less in 2021), she’s found the adjustment a challenge.

Swiatek plays the pesky qualifier Laura Siegemund in the second round.

Three-time champion Kvitova gets a break

Petra Kvitova, who won Madrid in 2011, 2015 and 2018, had a tough first-rounder against compatriot Maria Bouzkova.

They had played only once – last summer in the “Cincinnati” tournament inside the US Open bubble. And Bouzkova won.

But Bouzkova took a tumble and mashed up her thumb. And in the second set, she had to call it a day.

Few upsets on opening day

There was only one major upset on the first day.

And it was a heartbreaker for Elina Svitolina.

The Ukrainian, seeded No. 4 (and sporting her big new engagement ring from fiancé Gaël Monfils on court), was up 5-1 in the third set against Swiss lefty Jil Teichmann.

Teichmann won, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Tough one.

Kvitova
Photo: Mutua Madrid Open/Diego Soutu)

Vesnina returns to singles

Former Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina, who went off on a long maternity leave and returned earlier this season in doubles, played her first singles match since the 2018 French Open.

She got a tough draw in countrywoman Veronika Kudermetova, who is coming off a title at the clay-court tournament in Istanbul.

Vesnina was down quickly, early. She got her bearings later in the second set, but still went down 6-1, 6-4.

She’s planning to use her protected singles ranking at both Rome and Roland Garros.

Konta back in action

Another player who hasn’t seen much action in 2021 is British No. 1 Johanna Konta.

The 29-year-old (she turns the big 3-0 on May 17) dispatched the always challenging Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 6-2.

Konta didn’t play between the Australian Tour and Miami. And not since then.

She hasn’t won back-to-back matches yet this year.

Next up for her is qualifier Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.

Friday’s lineup superb

The first round continues Friday when more top names taking to the courts.

Matches to look out for:

[3] Simona Halep vs. local favorite Sara Sorribes Tormo
[16] Maria Sakkari vs. Amanda Anisimova
Madison Keys vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
[6] Karolina Pliskova vs. Coco Gauff
[11] Jennifer Brady vs. [WC] Venus Williams

Here’s the full Friday schedule: