SINGAPORE - In the battle of debutants, Garbine Muguruza came out tops with a solid 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Lucie Safarova on Monday, the second day of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
The 22-year-old Spaniard and world No. 3 put her opponent under pressure right from the start, securing the early break in the third game and overwhelmed Safarova with some powerful ground strokes.
The second set was a much tighter affair. Muguruza recovered from an early break to level the set at 3-3 before prevailing to collect her first win in the White group.
This was the second career meeting between the pair. The Czech, ranked ninth in the world, triumphed in straight sets on clay at the French Open quarter-finals earlier in June. Safarova would go on to reach the final at Roland Garros, losing to Serena Williams.
For Muguruza, a Wimbledon finalist (losing also to Williams), this was the perfect way to begin her campaign in the Indoor Stadium as she seeks to end the year on a high with victory at the US$7 million (S$9.75 million) event.
She said: "It was a very tough match. It's my first time playing here in the singles and I was a bit nervous.
"But I thought I played really well tonight and fought very well. I really wanted it tonight."
German Angelique Kerber caused an upset in the other singles tie of the White Group when she beat 2011 champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6(4).
In the doubles, sisters Chan Yung-jan and Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei posted a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Katarina Srebotnik and Caroline Garcia.
The competition will continue on Tuesday, with a clash between world No. 3 Maria Sharapova and No. 2 Simona Halep on the cards. Agnieszka Radwanska will play Flavia Pennetta.