Top-seeded Naomi Osaka is through to the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open after taking out Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2, 7-6 (6), on Sunday. It was her first main-draw win at the Premier Mandatory event.
Last month, Osaka withdrew from the semifinals of Stuttgart with an abdominal injury and told press at Madrid that she had avoided serving in training for a few days.
"I was just resting it," she was quoted as saying by AFP. "Of course I hit ground strokes... it's not like I could fully rest, but it's not painful, so I think it's looking good."
"I think it's fitness and also mental. Because last year I thought the number one thing I could have improved on, on clay, is just prolonging the point, or like accepting when I have to back off being aggressive," she said.
That's what Osaka says she improved at Stuttgart, coming from 5-1 down in the third set to reach the semifinals before injury.
"I played two really hard matches and I think that I just was able to turn a switch on that I haven’t been able to since the Australian," she said. "I just remember telling myself that I don’t have to hit a winner for it to be a good point and I don't have to play perfectly to win."
Since winning in Australia, Osaka split with her coach and has not won another event. She trained at the Rafael Nadal academy at Mallorca before coming into Madrid. She is now being coached by Jermaine Jenkins.
Up next for the world No. 1 is Sara Sorribes Tormo, who defeated Lara Arruabarrena earlier on Sunday.