By Ros Satar
- Victoria Azarenka  def. Laura Robson 6-4 6-2
- Daria Gavrilova def. Heather Watson 7-5 6-4
- Caroline Garcia def. Johanna Konta 6-4 2-1 ret’d.
MADRID, SPAIN – Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Johanna Konta all exited the Mutua Madrid Open on the first day.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Victoria Azarenka  def. Laura Robson 6-4 6-2
The long road back continues for former British No.1 Robson, who chuckled at the reminisces of flashes of her former glory.
After picking up her first tour win in WTA Stuttgart, she admitted that the thrill of the win had left her flat for the second round of qualifying.
“I was very flat that day. I’d played really well the day before and it was first WTA level win, and then you know it’s hard, you have all that adrenalin one day and then the next day, it just felt flat and it was like I’d never played tennis before.
“Some days are like that, and unfortunately it was one of those days in Stuttgart but you know the best thing you can do is just get back on the court the next day. That’s what I’ve been doing really well, even if I’ve played an absolutely terrible match just getting back on the court the next day and having no pain and continuing to play.”
Her match against fourth seed Azarenka started off competitively enough, with solid break point chances as the Belarusian looked to be taking time to settle in.
“I am relatively happy. You know I still had a lot of break points and game points that I didn’t convert so it would have been nice for it to be a little closer, and I had that point for 5-4 in the first set and I think if I would have won that game, I would have some momentum for sure and a bit more confidence as well.
“You know hitting the ball isn’t a problem for me, it’s being able to keep it up, you know. It was a step in the right direction for sure, but you know lots to work on and lots to learn from Vika as well.”
She elaborated: “I think the intensity that she brings to every point, whether it’s 15-0 or the first point of the game, every point really matters to her, you can tell. I was disappointed with myself at the start of the second set.
“I relaxed a little bit and she went 3-0 up in 10 minutes and that’s what she does really well. She is all over you when you drop for 5 minutes. That’s her breaking you and holding serve. That was a bit disappointing.”
Daria Gavrilova def. Heather Watson 7-5 6-4
Watson wasn’t able to capitalise on her place as a lucky loser against her friend Gavrilova, coming in to the tournament with scant preparation.
She said: “Coming into this tournament I didn’t have the preparation I wanted, I have been injured, and I only practiced three days before the tournament so I was very happy to get through my first round (of qualification). It was a tough second round of qualies, I thought my opponent played really well. Today I thought I played better than the other matches, but I am just not match fit and I was too inconsistent. I had a lot of break point chances, and we had a lot of games that went to deuce and I struggled to close them out.
“I’ll stay here for a couple more days then head to Rome to get practice there. I will practice at their clubs because that’s the courts I am going to play on and it’s high altitude here so the conditions are different to Rome. Then it’s more rehab, stay fit and healthy because I have not played many matches so I am super stiff at the moment. I just had a massage and I am going back for more treatment because I can hardly move (laughs), I can feel it everywhere.”
Watson is on the fringes for Olympic qualification, with British No. 3 Naomi Broady also snapping at her heels, as the British women’s game boasts a lot of strength in depth, but she admitted that this is also weighing on her mind.
“[It’s on her mind] every day! I really wanted to win this match today to just get closer and feel secure. I feel I am borderline and if I move up 10 more places I am in for sure. I did not have a good clay court season last year so I am hoping to make the most of the next couple of weeks.
“I am just focusing on myself and doing well which is stressful enough. Last night I slept terrible because I was just thinking about the match and there is a lot more on it right now.”
British No.1 Konta struggled with what looked like clay in her eyes in her first set against Caroline Garcia, before retiring in after the first three games of the second set.
Play continues at the Mutua Madrid Open at 11am (10am BST).
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