The BNP Paribas Open kicked off in Warsaw on Monday with the No 9th seed, Varvara Gracheva, neatly dispatched by lucky loser Laura Pigossi from Brazil, 6-2 6-4, while 5th-seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia held firm against Japan’s Misaki Doi, winning through 7-5 6-4 in just under two hours.
Garcia won 74% of her first-serve points to the Japanese’s 64%, and also saved 6 of the 8 break points she faced while converting 4 of the 9 break points she had on Doi’s serve.
The Frenchwoman awaits either Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy or Polish wild-card, Martyna Kubka in round 2.
Garcia is now the second favourite for the title, following the withdrawal of seeds 2-4, Kazakh Yulia Putintseva, Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain and Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, the latter two the result of a change in schedule while Putintseva has suffered a left wrist injury.
The top seed at the WTA 250 tournament is World No 1 Iga Swiatek, who surprisingly opted to play at home on clay instead of moving onto hard courts ahead of the Northern American Swing, which starts next Monday.
At the draw ceremony on Saturday, the 21-year old drew a fellow Pole, 84th-ranked Magdalena Frech, in the first round to make her debut at the event.
“I want to play in Warsaw as long as possible,” she said. “This is a special tournament for me, playing at home.
“I know someone may expect I start another winning streak, but I just want to have fun on court, and present the best tennis.”
Swiatek was referring to the history-making 37 match winning run she made leading up to Wimbledon, which started in mid-February and it lasted until early July, but was brought to an abrupt halt on the grass by the wily Frenchwoman, Alizé Cornet.
After the loss, Swiatek admitted she felt Wimbledon might be the place where her streak would end.
“Usually I am hard on myself,” Swiatek said. “Here, I know how I felt before matches, I know how I felt when I was practicing.
“Let’s just say that I didn’t feel like I’m in a best shape. So I’m kind of aware that this could happen.
“Maybe it’s not the right attitude to have, but it is like it is. I tried many things to feel better on court, on grass court, but it didn’t really work out.
“That’s why I’m not even hard on myself because, like, it’s kind of logic that if I couldn’t find it even on practices, I’m not going to find it on a match.”
Swiatek hope to begin a new streak against Frech on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Pigossi, who got into the main draw after Begu, Sunday’s Palermo champion, withdrew, saved 7 of 9 break points, and converted 5 of her 7 break chances in her straight sets win, taking an hour and 58 minutes.
Pigossi will next play Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska after the former French Open semi-finalist beat Romanian qualifier Alexanda Cadantu-Ignatik, 6-1 6-1, in their 1st-round match.
Podoroska won 87% of her first-serve points and 77% points returning Cadantu-Ignatik’s second serve, and she did not face a single break point as she converted 5 of the 6 break points she created.
Playing in just her second WTA Tour-level tournament, 20-year-old wild-card Maja Chwalinska dazzled with her finesse in front of her home fans to defeat qualifier Rebeka Masarova from Spain in the 1st-round.
The 162nd ranked Pole took an hour and 44 minutes to advance, winning 56% of her first-serve points to her opponent’s 52%, and 52% second-serve points to the latter’s 44%, while she converted 6 of the 13 break points that came her way as she conceded her serve 3 times across the match.
Next up for Chwalinska will either be Croatian 8th seed Petra Martic or fellow Polish wild-card Weronika Falkowska, who play on Tuesday.
Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic battled qualifier Arianne Hartono from the Netherlands, 6-4 5-7 6-3, over 2 hours 33 minutes after losing a 4-1 lead in the second set, and then missing 3 match points at 5-4, but overturning a 2-0 deficit in the decider.
For a place in the quarter-finals, Golubic will play either Kristina Mladenovic or 8th seed, Anna Bondar.
In the only other result on Monday, Katerina Siniakova, the former doubles World No 1 who rose 10 places in the singles rankings this week to No 86, was a 6-2 6-4 winner over fellow Czech Jesika Maleckova, a qualifier.
Siniakova could play either 7th seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz from Spain or Romanian Ana Bogdan next.