Madrid Open: Naomi Osaka makes winning start, Venus Williams ousted
Naomi Osaka started on a winning note in her bid to clinch a first clay court title with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Misaki Doi in the opening round of the Madrid Open.
The 23-year-old has seven career hard court titles to her name, but has never managed to lift a clay court trophy.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Brady overcame veteran star Venus Williams.
Osaka fires six aces to beat Doi
The 23-year-old world No 2 recovered from an early break to ease into the second round in 87 minutes.
She registered six aces, the last of which came on match point, and five breaks of serve.
The world number 79, Doi, suffered her 21st loss in 21 meetings against top 10 players.
Osaka will face Karolina Muchova in the next round.
I try to play my natural way, says Osaka
Osaka said she tries to play her natural game.
"I try to play my natural way. I would say if I start thinking about grinding too much, I become a bit of a pusher and it's not really good for me," said Osaka.
The Japanese is playing her first clay court event since a third-round loss at Roland Garros in 2019.
Brady ushers praise on Venus after her victory
American 11th seed Jennifer Brady saved 10 of 13 break points to beat veteran compatriot Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-4.
She said she was really excited to play Venus.
"I was really excited to play Venus," she said. "She's such a legend of our sport. When I saw the draw, I was like, 'Okay, that's awesome, what a great opportunity to play such a legend."
Women's top stars earn crucial wins
Two-time Madrid Open champion and third seed Simona Halep defeated Spain's 46th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 7-5.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, twice a runner-up in Madrid, made the last 32 with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia.
Czech sixth seed Karolina Pliskova hit 13 aces to beat Coco Gauff 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
A look at some crucial women's singles results
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x5) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-1, 6-2
Jessica Pegula (USA) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Elise Mertens (BEL x13) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3, 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Madison Keys (USA) 7-5, 6-2
Maria Sakkari (GRE x16) bt Amanda Anisimova (USA) 0-6, 6-1, 6-4
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-3, 6-1