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Tomljanovic’s hopes foiled by Muguruza

Ajla Tomljanovic’s best win in the whole of 2022 came when she defeated Garbine Muguruza – but any chance of a repeat shock from Australia’s No.1 in the Madrid Open has been ruthlessly snuffed out.

Friday’s first-round clash in Madrid’s Monolo Santana Stadium had looked a potentially golden opportunity for Tomljanovic to repeat her shock Indian Wells triumph of last October over the two-time grand slam champ.

After all, the Spanish world No.9 was playing her first match since an opening round defeat in this year’s edition of Indian Wells in early March and looked to be a potentially vulnerable target after taking time off to rest and treat a shoulder problem.

But though the US-based Australian pushed Muguruza in the opening set, once the Spaniard had brushed away the ring rust and start to unfurl the power, she proved a convincing 7-5 6-2 winner.

The former French Open and Wimbledon champion looked refreshed after her break and, following an edgy start, broke Tomljanovic’s serve five times in the one hour 39 minute encounter.

“I went out without a lot of expectation, not knowing with lack of matches how it was gonna feel out there, but that’s it,” the WTA tour champion Muguruza said afterwards.

“I took the energy from the crowd more this time than other years. In other years, I can’t get over sometimes the nerves.

“I would be delighted to produce my best tennis in Madrid and every year I come with that mentality. Madrid has always placed pressure on me because it’s a very important tournament for me, the only (major) tournament we got in Spain.”

Muguruza is looking for her best run on the Madrid clay after never getting beyond the last-16 before but for Tomljanovic, it turned out this was hardly the result – or draw – she’d hoped for after having just being elevated to her equal career-best ranking of 38.

Elsewhere at the WTA 1000 event, British comet Emma Raducanu continued her clay-court education by winning 11 of her last 12 games to beat Czech Tereza Martincova for the second time in a fortnight, 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

It was Raducanu’s first match since splitting from coach Torben Beltz earlier this week and the British Lawn Tennis Association’s head of women’s tennis, Iain Bates, was on hand to joined her team for the week in Madrid.

Another big name Naomi Osaka was back on clay for the first time since she pulled out of the French Open amid mental health struggles, and made an impressive return with 6-3 6-1 victory over Anastasia Potapova, who was fresh from winning her maiden title in Istanbul.

“I’m honestly trying to be more positive with myself,” said Osaka.

“This year I came a week early to train on red clay, so just trying to give myself more chances to do better. … To be able to do it in two sets, for me, it’s a really good starting block.”

With AP

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