Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and second-seeded Maria Sharapova advanced to the second round of the Madrid Open with straight set wins on Sunday on the event's new blue-clay court.
Earlier in the day, Shahar Peer dispatched Slovenian opponent Polona Hercog 6-3, 7-5 in Madrid.
Azarenka beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-6 (5 ), 6-4 in a tough opening match. The Australian Open champion and Kuznetsova traded breaks in the first set. Just when it looked like the second set was going to end in another tiebreaker, Azarenka broke again to close out the match.
Azarenka, last year's runner-up, has won four titles this year. She will play Andrea Hlavackova or Anastasia Rodionova in the next round.
Sharapova had an easier debut with a comfortable 6-0, 6-3 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. Sharapova stormed to an early lead by winning the first seven games. After Begu saved a match point the Romanian player had a double break chance, but Sharapova saved both points to hold serve and secure a second-round meeting with Klara Zakopalova.
Also, sixth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki served six aces in a 7-6 (7 ), 3-6, 6-4 win over Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan. Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska didn't give up a single break chance in her comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Lara Arruabarrena-Veci.
The 12th-seeded Angelique Kerber beat Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-4 to advance to a second-round match with Venus Williams, while 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic brushed by Mathilde Johansson of France 6-4, 6-1.
Roberta Vinci of Italy defeated 14th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-2, and American Varvara Lepchenko upset 11th seed Francesca Schiavone 6-4, (8 ) 6-7, 6-3.
Other winners included Yanina Wickmayer, Maria Kirilenko, Nadia Petrova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and local favorites Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Anabel Medina Garrigues.
In men's first-round action, Nicolay Davydenko beat Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4 ), 6-3 and will now face second-seeded Rafael Nadal.
At the Estoril Open in neighboring Portugal, Juan del Potro won his second consecutive title at the tournament by beating Richard Gasquet in straight sets.
The top-seeded Del Potro used his strong serve to win 6-4, 6-2 on the outdoor clay court in 1 hour, 27 minutes. It was the 12th-ranked Argentine's 11th career title and second this year. "I felt it was my best match of the week," Del Potro said. "I felt really confident on my forehand and I grew in confidence every game."
The second-seeded Gasquet, who also lost the final at Estoril in 2007 to current top-ranked Novak Djokovic, dropped service games early on in both sets. Del Potro didn't give up a break chance in the match while hitting six aces on the way to improving his head-to-head record with his French opponent to 4-1.
"He's very tall and has a good second serve and was hitting the ball very well," Gasquet said.
AndYoni win first doubles title on clay
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich won their first double titles on clay Sunday with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 win over the German/Serbian duo of Martin Emmerich and Andreas Sijlestrom at the ATP Serbia Open final.
(Rami Hipsh contributed to this report. )
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