Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins won the last eight games to advance to the second round of the Madrid Open with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Monica Puig on Friday.
Puig, the Olympic gold medallist in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, is returning to action following shoulder and bicep surgeries. The 28-year-old Puerto Rican appeared in only four matches since her first major surgery in 2019.
“You never know what to expect when someone’s been out for a while, and they’ve been working on some things,” the sixth-seeded Collins said. “You don’t know what type of game style that they’re going to play, so it was a little bit tricky trying to anticipate what she was going to do. I think she played at a super-high level, especially in the first set, and gave me a lot of challenges, so I really needed to just find my rhythm on the court.”
Collins also missed matches this season because of injury, including a neck ailment that she picked up during her quarterfinal run in Miami. “When you go a little period where you aren’t playing some matches, you almost feel a little bit rusty,” the 28-year-old American said. “I just needed to be patient and try to get myself back into it.”
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Another American to advance was 12th-seeded Jessica Pegula, who beat Camila Giorgi 7-5, 2-6, 7-5. Madison Keys was eliminated 7-6 (8), 3-6, 4-6 against fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari. Seventh-seeded Garbine Muguruza, one of the home-crowd favourites in the Spanish capital, defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-2, while Leylah Fernández, the US Open runner-up last year, beat Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Former world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan kicked off her clay campaign with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over qualifier Anastasia Potapova in the first round.
“I’m honestly trying to be more positive with myself,” the 36th-ranked Osaka said. “This year I came a week early to train on red clay, so just trying to give myself more chances to do better. ... To be able to do it in two sets, for me, it’s a really good starting block.”
The four-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the French Open last year and took a break from competition after saying she “suffered long bouts of depression” and experienced “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media. She was brought to tears this year at Indian Wells by a comment from a spectator.
She said ahead of the Madrid Open she was focused on not being too hard on herself.
“Today, for me, it was really fun, just being able to be back on the clay and kind of not taking those moments for granted," she said.
Jil Teichmann handed three-time Madrid champion Petra Kvitova her first loss in the first round at the tournament since 2010.
In a match between promising 19-year-olds, wildcard entry Marta Kostyuk beat Clara Tauson 6-3, 6-2.
Top-ranked Iga Swiatek withdrew from the clay-court tournament on Wednesday because of a sore arm.
The men’s first round begins next week, with both Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic participating.