Just a week after defending her Stuttgart title, Angelique Kerber was shockingly shown the door in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday as the Spanish capital witnessed an exodus of seeds on the first day of the tournament. The second-seeded German was not the only big name to fall as the event also lost its top seed Agnieszka Radwanska in a late first round contest.
Also, departing early were last year’s runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova and the World No. 8 Roberta Vinci.
The Czech veteran Barbora Strycova always poses a threat to any of the top players but the Australian Open champion Kerber did not have much to worry. The German had a flawless 4-0 record over her prior to this meeting, besides being in scintillating form.
But Strycova made a mockery of their head-to-head record when the two met at the Caja Magica on Sunday as she broke the World No. 3 four times to dismiss her 6-4, 6-2.
Later in the day, Kerber was joined in the sidelines by the World No. 2 Radwanska who fell to the former Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, 4-6, 7-6(3), 3-6.
It was a high-quality, enthralling affair where the fiery Slovak led by a set and a break and looked close to dismantling the Pole. But Radwanska refused to surrender so easily and the crafty player clawed her way back and even nudged ahead 2-0 in the decider.
Nevertheless, the undeterred Cibulkova got a second wind, winning six of the last seven games to show the door to the top seed.
The ninth-seeded Kuznetsova, meanwhile slumped to a 0-6, 6-3, 3-6 defeat to qualifier and Porsche Grand Prix’s breakout star, Laura Siegemund. Vinci was beaten by the Istanbul runner-up Danka Kovinic, 4-6, 2-6.
Two talented youngsters – Eugenie Bouchard and Daria Kasatkina – also lost to a pair of Romanians. While Bouchard bowed out with a 4-6, 6-3, 4-6 loss to Irina-Camelia Begu, Kasatkina was bundled out 3-6, 6-4, 2-6 by qualifier Patricia Maria Tig.
Azarenka, Kvitova, Halep, Muguruza win
Not all the big stars had the same ordeal, though. Defending champion Petra Kvitova had a comfortable day at the office as she sailed past the local hope Lara Arruabarrena, 6-3, 6-2. The season’s most in-form player, Victoria Azarenka prevailed 6-4, 6-2 over Laura Robson.
Joining them in the second round were third seed Garbine Muguruza, who won 6-2, 7-5 over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and sixth seed Simona Halep, who thrashed Misaki Doi, 6-0, 6-3.
Other players who managed a win on Sunday included 10th seed Timea Bacsinszky, 11th seed Lucie Safarova, 13th seed Karolina Pliskova and 14th seed Ana Ivanovic.
Eighth seed and Spanish No. 2 Carla Suarez Navarro fought back from a set down to edge past the rising Timea Babos, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.