Down 63 11 against Laura Pous-Tio, Cadantu won 11 of the next 14 games to clinch a 36 63 61 victory. She came into Cali having dropped 10 consecutive qualifying and main draw matches in ITF and WTA play.
"It was very tough from the beginning. It was very hot," Cadantu said. "She's a tough player, especially for the first round. I'm really happy that I managed to win the match."
Cali started as a $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit stop in 2007 and after undergoing several prize money increases, it was upgraded to a WTA 125K Series event starting with this year's staging.
"It's nice that they made the tournament bigger, with more points and prize money," Cadantu said.
"Obviously I like to play on clay, so that's one of the reasons I'm here. Also, the atmosphere is very nice, and this is the only tournament where it's this warm this time of the year."
Another Alexandra from Romania, Alexandra Dulgheru, had an even more dramatic triumph over Dinah Pfizenmaier. She failed to take advantage of a set point in the first set tie-break, but got the second set's lone break at 6-5 and stayed in front from there for a 67(10) 75 63 win. Victorious at the Cali ITF Women's Circuit event last year, the former World No.26 Dulgheru fell to No.583 this week, her lowest ranking since November 2006.
The longest match of the day was won by seventh-seeded Nina Bratchikova, who endured a rain delay and two hours, 43 minutes on court in edging Eva Birnerova, 67(4) 63 63. The Russian is coming off a semifinal showing in Pattaya City, the best WTA outing of her career.
"After the first set I was just thinking to try to stay in the match, keep trying and hopefully it will turn around," Bratchikova said. "She's a very tough opponent. I didn't play my best, but I'm still very satisfied because the conditions weren't ideal for me, with the altitude and the balls flying."