Petra Kvitova started her bid to secure a record-breaking Madrid Open title with a straight-sets defeat of Sofia Kenin.

Defending champion Kvitova is striving to be the first woman to win a Premier Mandatory tournament four times and eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-4 win on Saturday.

Up to second in the rankings after winning the Stuttgart Open last weekend, the two-time Wimbledon champion breezed into a 5-0 lead at the Caja Magica and went on to secure a meeting with Barbora Strycova or Kristina Mladenovic.

Kiki Bertens, runner-up last year in the Spanish capital last year, defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-2 in the final match of the day. 

Seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit bowed out with defeats to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich respectively on day one, while Ashleigh Barty knocked out fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.

 

KVITOVA IN CRUISE CONTROL

Kvitova carried on where she left off in Germany last week, dominating 20-year-old American Kenin in a one-sided opening set.

Kenin showed character to put up a fight in the second set, getting back on serve at 4-4 after going 2-0 down.

Kvitova broke straight back and served out the match, having served nine aces and won 71 per cent of points on her first serve. 

 

BARTY DASHES GAVRILOVA HOPES

Barty claimed the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open in March and hit the ground running on clay.

The world number nine said she is ready to do some damage on what is her least favourite surface and showed no mercy on compatriot Gavrilova.

Barty attacked her Fed Cup team-mate's serve on Court Manolo Santana, breaking three times in each set to seal victory in only 65 minutes and book an encounter with Danielle Collins or Vera Zvonareva.

 

IN-FORM KONTAVEIT AND SABALENKA SLIP UP

Kontaveit was beaten by Kvitova in the Stuttgart decider last weekend after reaching the semi-finals of the Miami Open, but Sasnovich recovered from a first-set bagel to beat the 14th seed 0-6 6-3 6-2.

Wildcard Kuznetsova accounted for 10th seed Sabalenka 7-5 6-4, while Victoria Azarenka could face Sloane Stephens in round two after a 7-5 6-4 success over Daria Kasatkina.

Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Anastasija Sevastova and Yulia Putintseva also advanced.

Ashleigh Barty reached the Sydney International final for the second year in a row and the home hope is now primed for a showdown with 2015 champion Petra Kvitova. 

Petra Kvitova ended Angelique Kerber's reign as Sydney International champion with a straight-sets quarter-final victory, while Alize Cornet is the only seed in the last four of the Hobart International. 

Sloane Stephens followed Simona Halep out of the Sydney International after Yulia Putintseva served up a final-set bagel.

World number one Halep was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Ashleigh Barty in her first competitive match since recovering from a back injury.

Stephens also failed to progress to the quarter-finals later in the day, the unseeded Putintseva beating the 2017 US Open champion 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-0.

Fourth seed Stephens was beaten by Johanna Konta in the first round of the Brisbane International last week, and the American had to recover from a first-set bagel to defeat qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova in the opening round in Sydney.

The world number five was blown away by Kazakh Putintseva, who is ranked 44th in the world, in the deciding set having been only one game away from a straight-sets victory.

Top seed Halep said she will head into the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, with no expectations after going down in straight sets to Barty.

Petra Kvitova will face defending champion Angelique Kerber in the last eight, having sent Hsieh Su-wei packing courtesy of a 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 success.

Elise Mertens, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Timea Bacsinszky were also second-round winners.

Sofia Kenin followed up her victory over top seed Caroline Garcia by beating Ons Jabeur 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Hobart International.

Belinda Bencic, conqueror of second seed Mihaela Buzarnescu in round one, dumped out Zoe Hives 6-2 6-4.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova saw off eighth seed Alison Van Uytvanck, while Alize Cornet, Kirsten Flipkens, Greet Minnen, Irina-Camelia Begu and Dayana Yastremska all came through their second-round matches.

Donna Vekic felt she played one of the best matches of her career as she routed 2018 finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Brisbane International to set up a semi-final meeting with Karolina Pliskova.

World number 34 Vekic needed just 56 minutes to thump Sasnovich 6-2 6-0 and reach the second Premier semi-final of her career.

"It was one of the most perfect matches I've ever played in my career. Everything was going well for me," said the 22-year-old Croatian.

However, Vekic is likely to face a stiff test in the last four against Pliskova, who won this event in 2017 and looked in fine form as she came through a topsy-turvy clash with Ajla Tomljanovic.

Pliskova hit 14 aces and 27 winners in a 6-1 1-6 6-1 victory and made only 16 unforced errors.

"It was a very strange match, but the beginning of the sets was very important," said the fifth seed.

"I've never had a match like this, but I'm just happy that I'm back in the semi-finals."

Pliskova and Vekic will meet on Saturday, with Naomi Osaka facing Lesia Tsurenko in the other semi-final tie.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina started her season with a defeat to Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Petra Kvitova was also knocked out of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.

Svitolina ended 2018 by winning the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals, but Sasnovich beat the top seed 6-4 0-6 6-3 in the world number four's first match of the new year.

Sasnovich responded with great character following a second-set bagel and struck 32 winners as she marched into the quarter-finals.

Svitolina defeated Sasnovich in the final of this tournament last year, so it was sweet revenge for the world number 30 from Belarus.

Kvitova bowed out earlier in the day with a 7-5 7-6 (7-1) loss to the unseeded Anett Kontaveit.

Kontaveit reached a career-high 20th in the rankings last year and could make further strides in 2019 on the evidence of a composed display against the fourth seed.

Kiki Bertens was another seed who was bundled out, with Donna Vekic consigning the world number nine to a 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-5 loss.

Johanna Konta was brought back down to earth a day after shocking Sloane Stephens, Ajla Tomljanovic seeing off the Brit 6-2 7-6 (7-2)  in her homeland.

Karolina Pliskova, the fifth seed, came out on top in an all-Czech battle with Marie Bouzkova.

 

Johanna Konta set about trying to banish the memories of a poor 2018 by claiming the scalp of Sloane Stephens in the first round of the Brisbane International on New Year's Day.

Konta plummeted down the rankings last season but started 2019 with a 6-4 6-3 defeat of third seed Stephens.

The unseeded Konta, now coached by Dimitri Zavialoff after parting with Michael Joyce, capitalised on a rusty display from the 2017 US Open champion to march into round two.

Konta will face Ajla Tomljanovic after breaking twice in each set, with Stephens winning just 52 points on her first serve in her first match on Pat Rafter Arena in five years.

Petra Kvitova was in danger of following the world number six out of the tournament but rallied to defeat Danielle Collins 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova needed just over three hours to defeat the American, who paid the price for failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka eased into the third round with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Destanee Aiava, while Anastasija Sevastova was a first-round winner over Daria Gavrilova.

Lesia Tsurenko joined Osaka in round three at the expense of Kimberly Birrell - who knocked out Daria Kasatkina on New Year's Eve.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich will face top seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina in the second round after seeing off Anastasia Potapova.

Anastasia ​Pavlyuchenkova will play Simona Halep in the second round of the Kremlin Cup after beating Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.

Halep used a wildcard to make her return from a back injury

Caroline Wozniacki took another step towards securing a WTA Finals spot with a straight-sets win over Petra Martic at the China Open.

The Dane booked her place in the last 16 with a 7-5 6-3 victory and will

Wimbledon favourite Petra Kvitova was dumped out in the first round on Tuesday as she lost in three sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.