ACAPULCO, México - Irina-Camelia Begu injected some momentum into her stuttering start to the season on Monday with a gutsy win over Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL.
Coming into Acapulco, Begu had won just one match all season and in her last competitive outing lost to World No.103 Alexandra Panova in Pattaya City.
When she fell two breaks behind in the final set against wildcard Tomljanovic another defeat looked on the cards. Somehow, though, the No.4 seed dragged herself back on level terms before reeling off the final three games to overhaul her opponent and clinch the most improbable of victories.
Also through to the second round are Begu's fellow seeds, Kiki Bertens and Lourdes Domínguez Lino. Bertens, the No.5 seed, withstood a second set rally to defeat lucky loser Sharon Fichman, 62 75, while No.7 seed Domínguez Lino ended the hopes of former champion Flavia Pennetta.
Pennetta, victor at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess resort in both 2005 and 2008, has missed much of the past six months with a right wrist injury and struggled to find her rhythm out on Cancha Central. Particularly troublesome was the serve, which she dropped seven times en route to a 75 63 defeat.
"I've been away from tennis for a long time so these last few weeks have not been easy," said Pennetta, who reached the second round on her comeback in Bogotá last week. "But I'm really happy to be back on the court. Little by little I have to raise my level to try and get back to where I was before the surgery."