HOBART, Tasmania - Mihaela Buzarnescu started the new season by knocking 2016 champion Alize Cornet out of the Hobart International in the first round.
The Romanian put together a stellar performance to see off an out of sorts No.4 seeded Cornet in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-4 after an hour and 23 minutes.
“I’m really happy with my game today because I knew it was going to be a very tough match,” Buzarnescu said in her on-court interview.
“I tried to play my best match and just try to keep up this level, because I’ve just come up into these kinds of tournaments. And I’m trying to stay here as much as possible.”
Buzarnescu came to Hobart looking to back up a breakthrough 207 season, which saw her rise from outside the Top 500 to just outside the Top 50, racking up a whopping 70 victories.
She got off to the right start against Cornet, opening with a break to build up a 3-0 lead. Buzarnescu’s fast start left Cornet reeling, the Romanian stayed calm against the dark cloud brewing on the Frenchwoman's side of the net. She kept her returns deep and served strongly to take the opening set without facing a break point.
Cornet started to find her groove in the second set, though, finding winners off both wings and saving break points to hang on to her serve in the opening game. She took her own opportunity to get her first break on the Buzarnescu serve and go up 3-1, but just as she was building up momentum the Romanian broke straight back. Another break made the difference as Buzarnescu wrapped up her first WTA match of the year in straight sets.
She kept Cornet contained throughout the match, blasting 22 winners against the French woman's eight, and hitting 26 unforced errors to Cornet’s 19. Her serve was her biggest weapon - she won 75% of her first serve points, and only faced one break point during the match.
“I was just trying to play my game and not let her lead the points because otherwise it’s tough,” she explained in her post-match press conference. “So I was trying to attack the balls, take them fast and make her run.”
Buzarnescu advances to play either a qualifier or Anna-Lena Friedsam in the second round.
Also in action, Beatriz Haddad Maia dispatched Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera in straight sets, needing just 68 minutes to complete the 6-3, 6-2 victory.