Wozniacki off to a winning start in Madrid

Madrid: Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday defeated Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-1 to reach the Madrid Open second round.

Wozniacki, ranked World No. 2, dominated the match at 3-3, winning nine of the following 10 games to seal the win after one hour and 28 minutes, reports Efe.

The reigning Australian Open champion needs a victory at the WTA clay-court tournament in Madrid to regain the top spot in the WTA singles rankings.

The 27-year-old is scheduled to play either Italian qualifier Sara Errani or Ashleigh Barty of Australia for a place in the third round.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko’s preparations in the run-up to the claycourt major hit the skids in the first round as she was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.

The Latvian has failed to scale the same heights she reached last year when she emerged out of nowhere to conquer Roland Garros.

But if the 20-year-old harbours any hopes of repeating that run in Paris later this month, she will have to make a vast improvement on Saturday’s error-filled performance.

Joining her at the exit was American Venus Williams, a runner-up in Madrid in 2010. She was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-2 by Estonian Anett Kontaveit.

World No. 4 Elina Svitolina and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, however, eased to victories.

Ukrainian Svitolina, the fourth seed, struck 28 winners and lost her serve just once as she brushed Alize Cornet aside for a 6-2 6-2 victory.

Svitolina is aiming to win her third title of the year but the 23-year-old has never progressed past the second round in Madrid.

Sixth seed Pliskova, coming off a Stuttgart Open title win last month, extended her winning run to six matches after striking 29 winners and seven aces to sweep past Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-2.

“I think I could play much better. Some parts were good, but my concentration was up and down. Sometimes, after you win a tournament you feel like everything is going to be easy, and I wasn’t fighting like I was in Stuttgart,” Pliskova said.

“That’s what I want to improve because my next match will be very tough.” The duo will be joined by French seventh seed Caroline Garcia and Russian Daria Kasatkina in the next stage.

American 12th-seed CoCo Vandeweghe’s defeat by unseeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic was the other upset of the day.