INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It was a mixed day for the Americans on Day 1 of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday afternoon, with Vania King scoring perhaps the biggest win of them all, grinding past in-form Italian Sara Errani.
Errani, who won her third WTA title in Acapulco last week, was probably the most dangerous unseeded player at Indian Wells, just one spot out of the seedings - she had also beaten King handily the only time they had played before, a 63 62 triumph in the early rounds of Carlsbad last summer.
But none of that discouraged King this time, nor did a 5-2 first set deficit - the American hit through the Italian, rallying to win the 57-minute first set then coming back from 3-1 down in the second set to close it out, 76(3) 64.
"I was happy with the way I played," King said. "I was a bit lucky to come back in the first set, but I focused point by point and felt I got better as it went on."
Awaiting King in the second round is No.13 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who, like all the seeds, received a first round bye. King has won the pair's last two meetings (the American also leads their overall head-to-head, 2-1).
More good news for the Americans came in the form of Jamie Hampton's surprisingly crushing 60 61 win over Polona Hercog. Having made her debut in the elite last week, Hampton was playing her first career match as a Top 100 player, and the confidence showed as she won the first nine games of the match and scored her career-best win over the World No.38 in just 52 minutes.
The other two Americans playing the day session weren't so lucky, with Jill Craybas falling quietly to Mona Barthel, 61 62, and Coco Vandeweghe squandering a 3-1 third set lead to lose to Jarmila Gajdosova, 46 63 63.
Other early winners were Sorana Cirstea, Klara Zakopalova, Galina Voskoboeva, Elena Baltacha, Carla Suárez Navarro, Kimiko Date-Krumm and Timea Bacsinszky. Voskoboeva had the closest call of them all, saving four match points down 5-4 in the third set to beat Marina Erakovic, 57 63 75; but also making narrow escapes were Cirstea, who came from 64 53 down to beat Iveta Benesova, 46 75 76(5), and Bacsinszky, who defeated Anne Keothavong, 64 26 75, her first win since returning from a 10-month foot injury lay-off (read more about Bacsinszky's recent return to the WTA here).
Baltacha also faced some serious trouble, fighting back from 63 42 down, as well as 2-0 down in the third, to survive Arantxa Rus, 36 64 63.
"I'm very, very happy. To finish like that was great," Baltacha said. "I've made some changes recently and have been putting the new elements in my game into my matches. It was so nice to get a win under my belt today.
"I've done well at Indian Wells and when you do well at any tournament, you look forward to coming back. I'm happy to get another win here."
Although she is still with coach Nino Severino, Baltacha has been working with some new people recently. "This is my fifth year working with Nino, but I'm now in my second tournament with Dani Dios as hitting partner, and Judy Murray, our Fed Cup coach, has helped me too. I have great, great people with me."