The former world No. 1, who was admitted to the tournament via a wildcard, needed just 61 minutes to get past Russia’s Potapova, who was on a title run in Istanbul last week and won nine straight games on clay before their showdown.
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy game, I feel like I’ve just adjusted a bit. It’s really good to be playing on clay again,” Osaka said.
Next up is home favorite Sara Sorribes Tormo or last year’s Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Osaka hit six aces, dropping just three points behind her first serve in her first meeting with Potapova.
Earlier in the day, former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu recorded her first top-50 victory on clay with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 win over American Alison Riske.
“I have to say that this year is much, much better compared to last year. I was in quarantine last year because I caught Covid, so to be here this year and actually play the tournament is incredible,” said Andreescu, who takes on Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the second round.
No. 4 seed Maria Sakkari survived a tough two-hour, 30-minute duel with American power-hitter Madison Keys, saving five of seven break points en route to a 6-7 (8/10) 6-3 6-4 Result.
The 26-year-old Greek, who next meets former Russian top-10 player Daria Kasatkina, claimed her first win since losing the Indian Wells final to Iga Swiatek nearly six weeks ago after losing her opener in Miami and had stopped during their Stuttgart first round last week.
“Obviously Madi is a big hitter, I think the conditions suit her well here,” Sakkari told reporters in Madrid on Friday.
“When I saw the draw I was like, ‘F***, this is a first round’, you know. There are a lot of tough first rounds here.
“I just trusted my game, we couldn’t break each other in the first set so it was pretty even. I was unlucky at a few moments in the tie-break. But overall I think it was a very positive match to put me back in that winning feeling.”
Three-time Madrid champion Petra Kvitova was sent home by Swiss left Jil Teichmann 6-3, 7-5, who next meets last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
Canadian Fernandez defeated German qualifier Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to celebrate her first win in Madrid.
Fernandez and her father are big Real Madrid fans and the 19-year-old said she feels particularly motivated to get deep into the tournament this week, keeping her in action in Los Blancos’ Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City is Wednesday.
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