Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid – Maria Sharapova was the first to open up play at La Caja Mágica on Tuesday and ousted Klara Zakopalova in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 to progress comfortably into the third round.
Throughout the match the Russian No.2 seed showed her all-court brilliance during their encounter and despite admitting in the press conference that she found the clay court ‘slippery’ she was not hesitant in sliding on the blue dirt and comically joked:
“It is slippery, yes it is. You just have to work on your balance a little bit more!”
Work is exactly what she made Zakopalova do having never fully recovered from an early service break and could not sustain momentum for long enough to make an impact. Her serve was her biggest downfall today as she let loose seven double faults. By contrast Sharapova found her range and speed on her serve today which put her in good stead to consistently line up a string of winners from both wings.
Sharapova was pleased with her performance today and called it a ‘high quality match’ despite the weather conditions threatening rain this morning and the roof was closed as a result:
“The good thing about indoors is you know pretty much what you are going to get. You don’t have to worry about the weather!”
In most press conferences the players have been asked about the blue clay court and today was no exception. Maria Sharapova agreed with Serena Williams on the colour of the clay not really being the issue:
“I don’t think it’s so much about the colour, it’s fine, it’s nice, it looks good. Playing-wise I feel that it does play a little bit different [due to] the amount of clay that’s on the court. The bounces were off, especially on the first couple of days of practice, but I feel that it has gotten better and settled in a little bit. At the end of the day it is the same for everybody. Your opponents are still playing on the same stuff.”
Aside from the issue with the change of colour in Madrid, the scheduling has also come under heavy criticism as a lot of WTA matches have not been televised and the matches in the Manolo Santana Stadium have featured the women opening up the day’s play and closing it in the evening, resulting in very few spectators watching their matches:
“The scheduling is a little bit tough here this week. The women usually play the first two matches and then play the last match at night. There is not a lot of switching. It’s strange for us, but it is the way it is. I’ve never played a match at 10:50 – that’s a first for me. Maybe soon we will be playing at 8am! The power of television.”
Lisa-Marie Burrows is currently in Madrid covering the Mutua Madrid Open and will be at the Rome Masters next week. Catch her as a regular contributor for TennisBloggers.com and on Twitter: @TennisNewsViews.