Madrid, Spain – Second-seeded Maria Sharapova and last year's runner-up Victoria Azarenka were a pair of first-round winners Monday at the $4 million Madrid Open.
The former world No. 1 and reigning French Open champion Sharapova stayed hot by handling Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 7-5, 6-2, while the third-seeded former top-ranked star Azarenka was tested in a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-3) victory over last week's Portugal Open champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the clay courts at The Magic Box.
Sharapova, who titled in Stuttgart two weeks ago, will meet American Christina McHale in the round of 32 on Tuesday, while the Australian Open titlist Azarenka will take on Russian Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday.
Azarenka lost to current world No. 1 Serena Williams in last year's finale in Madrid and was the 2011 runner-up here to Czech slugger Petra Kvitova.
A big Day-3 second-round upset came when promising British left-hander Laura Robson took out fourth-seeded Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-1.
In some other second-round action at this French Open tune-up, sixth- seeded German Angelique Kerber dropped France's Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-2 and seventh-seeded 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani snuck past Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Some additional first-round play saw last week's Portugal Open runner-up Carla Suarez Navarro upend ninth-seeded former Roland Garros finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, the aforementioned McHale outlast Chinese Peng Shuai 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic roll past Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-1.
In some more second-round play on Tuesday, the top-seeded and defending champion Williams will face Spanish wild card Lourdes Dominguez Lino.