MADRID, May 8: Rafael Nadal made a comfortable start to his quest for a third Madrid Masters title on Wednesday as he eased past Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4 but Victoria Azarenka lost her temper, broke her racket and argued with the chair umpire in an inglorious exit.
One break in each set was enough for Nadal as he overcame some impressive variety and touch shown by Paire early on to break when the World No.37 was serving at 2-3 down in the opening set, before eventually sealing it 6-3.
Paire had his only look at a break point on the Nadal serve early in the second set but couldn’t take advantage, and in typical Nadal fashion he upped the pressure to break at 4-4 before serving out to book his place against either Nicolas Almagro or Mikhail Youzhny in round three.
On the women’s side, Azarenka was docked a point for smashing her racket on the way to a surprise 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 defeat by unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
The Belarussian world number three, runner-up in the last two editions of the premier clay event and coming back from an injury layoff, appeared firmly in control against her 24th-ranked opponent after cruising through the first set.
However, Makarova raised her game to take the second set and after Azarenka smashed her racket on the ground at 3-3 in the decider the Australian Open champion’s game fell apart and she suffered her first defeat of the year.
The umpire had already warned Azarenka at the end of the first set and when she took out her frustration on her racket she was given a point penalty.
“I just felt it was a weird call for me because I had no idea I had a code violation,” she told a news conference. “But, I mean, it happened. It didn’t help, for sure, but it’s okay. It’s my own fault,” added the 23-year-old.
On Tuesday, world No 1 Novak Djokovic was stunned by 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov in the second round when he went over on his ankle on the way to a shock 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 defeat in just over three hours of gruelling tennis.
While Djokovic suffered, Andy Murray, the third seed, came through a testing encounter against German Florian Mayer 7-6, 7-6.
In the women’s event,second-ranked Maria Sharapova eased past 21-year-old Christina Mchale of the United States 6-1, 6-2.
Nadia Petrova and Dominika Cibulkova were the seeds to bow out on the women’s side on Tuesday.
Results (prefix number denotes seeding): Tuesday: Men’s singles: Second round: 5-Rafa Nadal (Spain) bt Benoit Paire (France) 6-3, 6-4; 13-Tommy Haas (Germany) bt Tommy Robredo (Spain) 6-3, 7-5; 14-Kei Nishikori (Japan) bt Viktor Troicki (Serbia) 7-5, 6-2; 6-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) bt Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2.
Women’s singles: Second round: Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) bt 3-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3; Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) 6-3, 6-1; Varvara Lepchenko (US) beat Julia Goerges (Germany)—walkover.
Monday: Men’s singles: Second round: Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) bt 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (10-8), 6-3; Pablo Andujar (Spain) bt John Isner (US) 6-4, 6-4; Fernando Verdasco (Spain) bt 12-Milos Raonic (Canada) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7); 3-Andy Murray (Britain) bt Florian Mayer (Germany) 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-3).
Women’s singles: Second round: 2-Maria Sharapova (Russia) bt Christina Mchale (US) 6-1, 6-2; 16-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) bt Chanelle Scheepers (South Africa) 6-2, 6-2; Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) bt 11-Nadia Petrova (Russia) 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-4; Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain) bt Madison Keys (US) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3; Sabine Lisicki (Germany) bt 15-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3).—Agencies