MADRID: Being more positive is paying off for former No. 1 Naomi Osaka early in her clay-court season.
Osaka kicked off her clay campaign with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over qualifier Anastasia Potapova in the first round on the Madrid Open center court on Friday.
“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.
Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins won the last eight games to advance 7-5, 6-0 over Monica Puig, the Olympic gold medalist in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Puig is returning to action following shoulder and bicep surgeries. The Puerto Rican has 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.”
Collins also missed matches this season because of injury, including a neck ailment she picked up during her quarterfinal run in Miami.
Another American to advance was 12th-seeded Jessica Pegula against Camila Giorgi, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5. Madison Keys was eliminated by fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-4.
Seventh-seeded Garbine Muguruza, one of the home-crowd favorites in the Spanish capital, defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-2, while Leylah Fernández, the U.S. Open runner-up, beat Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
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 19-year-olds, wild card Marta Kostyuk beat Clara Tauson 6-3, 6-2.
Top-ranked Iga Swiatek withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday because of a sore arm.
The men’s first round begins next week, headlined by Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic.