First out on the Manolo Santana show court in Madrid on Monday morning, Carla Suárez continued the rich vein of form on display from Spain's female tennis players at the Madrid Masters as the world number 23 dispatched Samantha Stosur 7-6, 6-2.
Suárez exploded on to the scene at the 2008 French Open, where, on her first appearance at a Grand Slam, she came through qualifying to reach the quarterfinals. The following season, she did the same at the Australian Open. Flavia Pennetta, Amélie Mauresmo and Venus Williams were among her victims at both tournaments.
But the 24-year-old has, if not exactly failed to build on the expectation generated by those performances (in a country long starved of success on the WTA circuit), perhaps fallen short of the place where her array of shots, mobility and graceful whipped backhand might have reasonably been expected to take her.
"Being 24 and not being in the top 15 in the ranking shouldn't be a limitation or an additional pressure," the Canarian said. "All the players are very well prepared and the difference in points between the top 10 and rest is huge. I have to try to do better in the big tournaments but I don't feel under pressure."
Suárez's victory over the world number nine came just two days after she contested the final at the Portugal Open, where Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the title. However, the world number 23's form this season suggests a steady rise up the ranking is now possible.
The player Suárez defeated in last week's semifinal in Oeiras, world number 51 Kaia Kanepi, awaits in the next round.
Elsewhere on day two of the tournament proper, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, a wildcard entrant, was ruthlessly beaten by Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-1. Second-round matches of note for the Armada feature Lourdes Domínguez against Serena Williams, María Teresa Torró Flor versus Marion Bartoli, and Anabel Medina against Madison Keys, the up-and-coming American who defeated Li Na on Sunday. No Spanish player has ever reached the last eight in Madrid.
In the men's draw, Feliciano López struck first in an all-Spain clash against Daniel Gimeno-Traver but the latter prevailed in three sets, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. "I feel good in Madrid, it's like my second home," said Gimeno-Traver. "Maybe it's because of the altitude, which suits my playing style. I came through the qualifiers last year, won a round and then played well against [Novak] Djokovic. Let's see if I can do the same this year."
Nicolás Almagro won through to round two when his opponent, Tobias Kamke, withdrew injured at the end of the first set, while Guillermo García-López lost out to John Isner in a tight contest, 5-7. 6-7.