After last year’s clay-court blues at the Madrid Masters, the players this year have nothing but praise for the traditional red surface at this year’s tournament. “The courts this year fortunately are really good,” said home favorite Rafael Nadal, who will play either Benoît Paire or a qualifier in the first round. “In Madrid, we have the problem of the dry climate, so it’s very difficult to have the clay that settles down properly, a clay that’s the same as in other places. The courts cannot be better. So I think from the side of the players we can only say thank you. I think that the audience will also say thank you for that.”
Fernando Verdasco successfully negotiated his first-round match against David Goffin, winning in straight sets to set up a meeting with either Nikolay Davydenko or 12th seed Milos Raonic. Guillermo García-López also progressed at the expense of countryman Rubén Ramírez Hidalgo in a tight 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 win.
There were a few shocks in the women’s draw, with former world number one and 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki crashing out to Yaroslava Shvedova, and fifth seed Li Na losing to Madison Keys. Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone was beaten in straight sets by Spain’s María Teresa Torró Flor while Anabel Medina also reached the second round by defeating Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-3. Top seed and defending champion Serena Williams was made to work for her ticket to round two in a 7-6, 6-1 win over Yulia Putintseva.
At the Portugal Open on Sunday, David Ferrer was roundly beaten in the final at Oeiras by Stanislas Wawrinka, who ensured the crown stayed in Swiss hands after Roger Federer’s triumph last season. Ferrer will now travel to Madrid where he faces a potential quarterfinal against Nadal, the Spaniards being seeded fourth and fifth respectively.