The two top seeds, Elise Mertens and Garbiñe Muguruza, came through their opening matches at the Hobart International on Tuesday unscathed, both in straight sets.
I’ll keep playing my game, keep being patient. There’s no big secret, I just want to keep working and hopefully I can just keep on playing, and keep on playing! Garbiñe Muguruza
While Belgium’s Mertens took just over an hour to dispatch the American qualifier, Christina McHale, 6-1 6-1, Muguruza had to survive a second-set comeback by China’s Wang Yafan before claiming her first-round victory, 6-1 7-5.
The 2014 Hobart champion eased through the first set, and appeared to be cruising to a win, leading 5-2 in the 2nd, when Wang staged a late fightback, putting a fright into the Spaniard.
“I was expecting a tough match, I know Yafan plays very well,” said Muguruza, after her win.
“I was expecting she was going to bring it in the second set and be better, and that’s what happened, but I was ready to face it.”
“Of course, I always want to win 6-1 6-1,” Muguruza continued, “but that never happens, it’s very rare.”
This is Muguruza’s first appearance in Hobart since she romped to her first-ever WTA singles title in 2014, and has since garnered 2 Grand Slam titles in Paris and at Wimbledon to her name.
She converted 7 of her 11 break points and won nearly 60 percent of points on the Wang first serve to book a spot in the second round after a little over an hour and a half of play.
Having got past Wang, ranked 51, Muguruza, whose own ranking has dropped to 34 after scaling the heights to the top spot, will now meet Ons Jabeur in the second round, after the Tunisian qualifier dispatched Anna Blinkova of Russia in straight sets in her opening match, 6-4 6-1.
“I’ll keep playing my game, keep being patient,” said Muguruza. “There’s no big secret, I just want to keep working and hopefully I can just keep on playing, and keep on playing!”
Britain’s Heather Watson, who also won through to round 2 on Monday, was a late replacement in the doubles with partner Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, scoring a straight sets win over USA’s Hayley Carter & Luisa Stefani from Brazil, 7-6(3) 6-2.
India’s former doubles World No 1 Sania Mirza made her winning return to the tour on Tuesday after more than 2 years on maternity leave.
The 33-year-old last played at the China Open in October 2017 before injuries and then the birth of her son Izhaan in October 2018 meant an extended spell on the sidelines.
Mirza, who is married to the former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik, partnered Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok to a 2-6 7-6(3) [10-3] victory over Georgia’s Oksana Kalashnikova & Miyu Kato from Japan in the doubles.
“Today was one of the most special days of my life, to have my parents and my little baby boy with me in my first match after so long… and we WON our first round,” Mirza tweeted after her win.
“Feel very grateful for the love I am receiving.. BELIEF!! Takes you places YES my baby boy, we did it.”
Mirza, regarded as her country’s greatest women’s tennis player, became the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005.
She reached the fourth round of the US Open in the same year, and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30, but a wrist injury caused her to concentrate on doubles, forging a partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis, which produced 3 Grand Slam titles.
She is due to partner American Rajeev Ram in the mixed doubles at the Australian Open next week.