MADRID, Spain - Sixth-seeded Sania Mirza and Anastasia Rodionova and eigth-seeded Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova were eliminated on the first day of doubles action featuring seeded teams at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday.
Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Zhang Shuai, playing their first match together, cruised to a 63 62 victory over Mirza and Rodionova. Groenefeld is an 11-time titlist in doubles, and while Zhang has just two titles to her credit, one of them came alongside Chuang Chia-Jung in Estoril just last week.
Next up for Groenefeld and Zhang is one of the dangerous unseeded duos in the draw - Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez. The Argentines were 62 75 winners over Andreja Klepac and Alicja Rosolska. Though they are yet to collect a title since joining forces in February, Dulko and Suárez can usually be counted on to go deep into events, having reached the semis in four of their six outings.
As for Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova, they were playing for the first time since capturing their 10th career title together last month in Stuttgart. However, that momentum was thwarted by Hsieh Su-Wei and Zheng Jie, who took the last four points of the match tie-break in their 62 16 106 triumph.
In a bit of a surprise involving unseeded teams, Dominika Cibulkova and Janette Husarova got their first victory in seven career matches together by edging Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova, 63 67(6) 107, despite not capitalizing on any of their six match points in the second set. The Slovaks will have their hands full in one of Tuesday's featured showdowns against No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond.
The doubles draw experienced its first injury casualty when Polona Hercog and Vania King had to withdraw from their opener against Marina Erakovic and Monica Niculescu because of a low back injury suffered by Hercog.
"Had to pull out of doubles because poor Polona is hurt," King tweeted. "Hope she recovers soon. We can all empathize! Getting ready for Rome now."