Madrid – World number two Petra Kvitova made an impressive start to the defence of her Madrid Open title by beating America’s Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday.
Kvitova needed only 33 minutes to win the opening set at the Caja Magica and while Kenin stretched her further in the second, the Czech saw out a straight-sets victory.
Barbora Strycova or Kristina Mladenovic now await in the second round for Kvitova, who is attempting to follow up her success in Stuttgart last week with another strong run ahead of the French Open later this month.
Kvitova will be one of the favourites at Roland Garros, having made an astonishing comeback from the attack in her home two and a half years ago, which left her with severe injuries to her stronger, left hand.
The 20-year-old Kenin has climbed to number 37 in the rankings after only breaking into the top 100 last year but she was no match for the power of Kvitova, who is chasing a record-extending fourth Madrid title.
Victoria Azarenka battled past talented Russian Daria Kasatkina 7-5, 6-4 to continue her own resurgence since losing in the first round of the Australian Open in January.
“It’s a first match, and first matches are not easy — especially here with the conditions and the altitude,” Azarenka said in a press conference afterwards.
“I think that winning without your A-game, against a player who is in her 20s and in the top 20, I think that is really a silver lining.”
Azarenka will face either eighth seed Sloane Stephens or a qualifier in the second round.