HONOLULU, HI, USA - No.4 seed Catherine Bellis made a confident start to the Hawaii Open with a straight-set victory over Zhang Nan-Nan.
With the wind gusting and the threat of rain in the air, Bellis kept her time on court to a minimum, closing out a 6-2, 6-3 win in little over an hour.
"Every tournament you get to, you're not used to playing on the courts," Bellis said in her on-court interview. "It's amazing for her to pass qualies and I was really lucky to get through. I feel like I plated a great match and I really got used to the courts by the end."
The result continues an impressive recent run of form for Bellis. After reaching the quarterfinals in Québec City, Bellis dropped back down to the ITF Circuit, picking up back-to-back indoor titles in Saguenay then Toronto.
Against Zhang, who had come through qualifying, Bellis displayed impressive poise in the tricky conditions, registering her 17th win in 19 matches courtesy of breaks at either end of both sets. "Getting used to the wind and seeing the wind patterns helped. I was trying to rush a little because I think it's about to rain and really glad to get through it."
In the second round, Bellis will play compatriot and wildcard Usue Maitane Arconada, a 6-3, 7-5 winner over Miyu Kato. Another wildcard, Katie Swann, also cleared the first hurdle with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory against Fanny Stollar, while No.5 seed Sabine Lisicki became the first player in the quarterfinals when she saw off Verónica Cepede Royg, 7-6(2), 6-1.