Ash Barty heard voices on her way to a 6-2, 6-1 Thursday thrashing of Shelby Rogers – but it was only the crowd allowed in on opening day at the Madrid Masters.

Officials have established a ceiling of 1,500 ticket holders per day through the well controlled gates of the Caja Magica, with temperature controls and social distancing strictly enforced.

For the top seed and winner of last week’s Stuttgart title, the comforting murmur of any amount of public was welcome after months of no-fan COVID-era tournaments.

“It was really nice to have a few voices in the crowd,” the Australian said after victory with 19 winners and nine unforced errors.

“It sounded like a lot more than there.

“I was looking forward to some sunshine and getting outdoors. But we’re indoors again (on showcourts with moveable roofs).

“It’s certainly nice to be back here playing oin a different surface. It’s a completely new slate, clean slate for me.”

Barty is competing in the capital for the third time, with a quarter-final in 2019 her best Madrid showing.

The blowout win in 62 minutes was the fifth over Rogers without a loss in the series – with four of their matches being played since February.

“I’ve played Shelby many times this year, and it’s always a very big challenge,” the winner said. “I needed to make sure that I was at my very best to be able to compete today.”

World No. 1 Barty has now won 12 straight matches on European clay.

Barty, who claimed the Roland Garros crown in 2019, was joined in the second round by 2020 Paris champion Iga Swiatek, with the Pole putting out American Alison Riske, 6-1, 6-1.

It was the first match on clay for Swiatek since beating Sofia Kenin in the COVID-delayed final last October.

Two-time Madrid champion and ninth seed Petra Kvitova won her opening over fellow Czech Maria Bouzkova 6-2, 6-3. Swiss Jil Teichmann beat fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).

Main photo:- Ash Barty winning in Madrid – courtesy Madridmutuaopen


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