Tokyo, September 17: Garbine Muguruza avoided a first-round exit at the Tokyo Open, coming through a tough opening assignment against Belinda Bencic in straight sets.
The two-time grand slam champion, who went into the match 4-4 in her last eight matches since a run to the semi-finals of the French Open, needed only an hour and 24 minutes to beat the Swiss 6-2, 6-4.
But the Spaniard suggested the scoreline flattered her somewhat, saying: "It was a very difficult first round. She's a tough player with incredible wins. Today was tough but I'm glad to win.
"I like to play here. In the past I've done well, so I'm positive this year that I can do well again and go far."
Next up for Muguruza will be either Eugenie Bouchard or Alison Riske, the world number 14 aiming to win back-to-back matches for the first time since Roland Garros.
Dominika Cibulkova will serve as US Open champion Naomi Osaka's first opponent since her triumph at Flushing Meadows after coming through a see-saw battle with Nao Hibino 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.
For the 1st time in 80 years, back-to-back seasons produced 8 different Slam champions.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 10, 2018
Note age spread (at time of win):
AO - Serena, 35
RG - Ostapenko, 20
W - Muguruza, 23
USO - Stephens, 24
AO - Wozniacki, 27
RG - Halep, 26
W - Kerber, 30
USO - Osaka, 20
Camila Giorgi saw off Misaki Doi in much more straightforward fashion, claiming a 6-2, 6-1 victory, earning the Italian a clash with top seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was a straight-sets winner over Aliaksandra Sasnovich and will face second seed Caroline Garcia next, while Daria Gavrilova won a third-set tie-break against Kristyna Pliskova to book a second-round clash with her sister Karolina Pliskova and Anett Kontaveit beat Kristina Mladenovic.