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Madrid – US Open champion Samantha Stosur got off to a winning start at the Madrid Masters Saturday, the Australian advancing to the second round with a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Croatian Petra Martic.
Stosur was joined by Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who upset French seventh seed Marion Bartoli 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-3.
French Open winner Li Na, the eighth seed, also made it through after dominating her opener against teenaged Madrid debutante Garbine Muguruza Blanco of Spain, who saved two match points before finally falling 6-2, 6-4.
Unseeded Mona Barthel won an all-German battle, eliminating 2011 semi-finalist Julia Goerges 6-4, 6-1.
“This time last year I was ranked around 200 and now I'm close to being seeded,” said Barthel, making her Madrid debut. “It feel strange, but I worked hard for it.
“I'm serving well and moving better on the clay and I'm obviously benefitting from confidence right now.”
Venus Williams, the losing finalist two years ago, was pushed hard by Romanian Simona Halep before winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), while Spain's Silvia Soler-Espinosa beat Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-2.
The men begin play on Sunday, with the top eight seeds given a bye.
Rafael Nadal, seeded two, will get his first test on the unorthodox and experimental blue clay courts which have drawn the Spaniard's anger when he plays the winner from the match between Croatian Ivo Karlovic and Russian Nikolay Davydenko on Sunday.– Sapa-AFP