• Madrid Open

Na and Jankovic through as Madrid pays tribute to Baltacha

ESPN staff
May 5, 2014
Andy Murray lined up with his fellow professionals to pay tribute to former British No.1 Elena Baltacha © Getty Images

Second-ranked Li Na started her Madrid Open campaign with a victory on Monday, overcoming a stubborn opponent just as third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska did to reach the second round.

Na's clay debut began with an encouraging 6-1 7-6(7) victory over Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens before Radwanska also advanced thanks to a 7-6(3) 6-2 win over Canada's Eugenie Bouchard.

Li, the Australian Open champion, survived two set points by Flipkens and eventually took the tiebreaker to avoid another surprise first-round exit like last year. Li goes up against fellow Chinese player Zheng Jie next.

'She had a remarkable attitude'

  • I was very saddened when I saw the news this morning.
  • I didn't know her that well but have been with her at training camps and seen her around at tournaments. All I can say is that she was a fighter and always brought a tremendous work ethic to the court.
  • From a tennis-based point of view she maximised what she had and to come back from all the injuries and illnesses to achieve so much in the game showed remarkable attitude and spirit.
  • She was a very pleasant person and a popular player on the circuit - particularly among those, like Laura Robson and Heather Watson, who spent a lot of time with her. They always alluded to just how nice she is.
  • To lose someone so young at only 30 years old is such a shame. She only retired at the end of the November and then in January it was diagnosed, so it just goes to show how lucky most of us are and how we must live each day to the full.
  • Chris Wilkinson, ESPN tennis columnist

Bouchard, Li's opponent in the Australian Open final, came out on the losing end of a tough match against third-ranked Radwanska, as the Polish player earned her 25th match win of the season.

"The tiebreak was the biggest key," said Radwanska, who goes on to play Svetlana Kuznetsova. "I did a couple of good shots in the tiebreak and managed to win that, and that gave me more confidence in the second set."

Kuznetsova held off Alize Cornet 6-3 4-6 6-1 as the Russian continued her good run, including reaching the final in Portugal on Saturday. Also, Caroline Wozniacki was a 6-2 6-2 victor over Ekaterina Makarova.

Jelena Jankovic eased past Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-3 while fourth seed Simona Halep beat German qualifier Julia Goerges 6-2 6-0.

A minute's silence was held at the Magic Box's Manolo Santana centre court before the evening match in remembrance of Elena Baltacha, the former British No.1 who died of liver cancer on Sunday.

In men's first-round play, ninth-seeded John Isner beat Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6 (8) 6-4, with the American securing the only break in a match heavy on baseline groundstrokes.

Kei Nishikori followed up his Barcelona Open triumph with a 6-4 6-4 win against Ivan Dodig.

Nishikori said working with former French Open champion Michael Chang boosted his confidence on this surface as he won his first career clay title in Barcelona.

"I'm playing well and did well last week in Barcelona and I'm getting better on clay so hopefully I can go further this week," Nishikori said. "There was just one bad game, on my serve at 3-2 in the second set. Otherwise, it was an almost perfect match."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3 4-6 6-3 while Gilles Simon emerged from another all-French match-up, after Benoit Paire retired, to play Roger Federer next.

Stanislas Wawrinka, who is looking to follow-up his Monte Carlos Masters triumph, opens in the Spanish capital against Dominic Thiem after the Austrian beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-4 6-2.

Other winners were Mikhail Youzhny, Jarkko Nieminen, and Spanish players Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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