Suárez Navarro Storms Through Opener
Published May 25, 2015 12:14
The No.8-seeded Suárez Navarro had been tested by Niculescu in their three previous meetings, two of those going to three sets, but this one was the most dominant of them all as the Spaniard hit 23 winners - including 11 off the forehand - to just 18 unforced errors to prevail in an hour and 20 minutes.
It was Suárez Navarro's 32nd match win of the year, which leads the tour. The only other player to reach the 30 mark this year is Simona Halep, who notched her 30th match win of the year on Sunday.
"I took this match very seriously," Suárez Navarro said. "First round matches are always difficult. They can get complicated. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get into the tournament, and I think there might also be a little bit more pressure. And today was very challenging from beginning to end."
This has been a breakthrough year for Suárez Navarro, highlighted by three Premier finals at Antwerp, Miami and Rome that have propelled her into the Top 10 for the first time, and to No.8 in the world after that Rome final, just in time for her to grab a coveted Top 8 seed for Roland Garros this fortnight.
Speaking of pressure, she was asked whether she feels any more of it now that she's the World No.8.
"Well, that may be the case, but I don't really feel it," Suárez Navarro said. "I don't feel that I have to come up with good results. I just take it match by match. I'm just focusing on my game and if I play a bad match then I just go back and work hard to make sure I'll get it right for the next time."
And with those 32 match wins on the year, she's getting a lot right - she might even be on autopilot.
"It's not like you play without thinking at all, but I think we have automatic reactions sometimes. When I play I do some serious thinking. I know where I'm going to place the ball, and if I'm going to put some spin on the ball or hit flatter. You have to be very thoughtful, so it can't only be on autopilot."
Awaiting Suárez Navarro in the next round is French wildcard Virginie Razzano, who came from a set down to beat Paraguayan qualifier Verónica Cepede Royg on Court Suzanne Lenglen, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Razzano beat Suárez Navarro in the pair's only previous meeting, two summers ago in Carlsbad, and even though Suárez Navarro is a different player now, that might not mean much for the giant-killing Razzano - she has 13 Top 10 wins, including a famous one here in 2012 against Serena Williams.