World No.1 Iga Swiatek made a winning return to the Mutua Madrid Open on Friday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Austrian lucky loser Julia Grabher.
After winning four matches last week on the indoor clay at the Porsche Arena to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Swiatek's spring clay-court winning streak is now at five matches.
Here are some takeaways from Swiatek's Madrid return.
Back to the Caja Magica: In the midst of what became a 37-match winning streak, Swiatek didn't play in Madrid last year because of a shoulder injury. She reached the third round in her tournament debut in 2021. Seeded No. 14 that year, she lost to then-World No.1 Ashleigh Barty.
Swiatek's latest streak: Swiatek has now won her past 16 matches against qualifiers or lucky losers.
Her last defeat in such a match came before she won her first Grand Slam title, against Arantxa Rus at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Two weeks later, she won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.
Grabher replaced 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the women's field at the first WTA 1000 event on clay this spring and came through a first-round match against fellow lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova to set up her first career match against a No.1 player.
"First matches are tricky, so I'm happy that I'm through and I have already this experience of playing on center court," Swiatek said afterwards. "It's true it's a little bit different than the practice court, but I'm happy that I'm through and I'm gonna have more chances.
"I feel like my opponent played pretty differently than most of the players. That was pretty tricky, especially coming from Stuttgart where we played on kind of a surface where everything was lower.
"But I needed a couple of games to get used to that, and I would say technicalities and the rest of it we have it figured out, so we also see how the conditions in terms of whether gonna change here, but with my coach's experience, I think it's gonna be fine."
Swiatek never trailed in victory, and took the lead for good in the fourth game of the opening set -- her first of three breaks of Grabher's serve in all. Down 6-3, 3-0, the Austrian made a push in the middle of the second set; she got a break back, held serve, and got to deuce on Swiatek's serve in the sixth game. However, the Pole held, and won the last two games to advance safely.
Pera awaits: Swiatek will next face American left-hander Bernarda Pera, the No.28 seed. Pera was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Germany's Tatjana Maria, putting her in the third round in Madrid for the first time in five years.
Pera and Swiatek have played once previously, in a qualifying match on grass in Birmingham in 2019. Swiatek won, 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.