BUCHAREST, Romania - Playing a WTA match for the first time in her home country on Wednesday, No.1 seed Simona Halep cruised through the first set and withstood a second set challenge to reach the second round of the Bucharest Open.
Halep didn't surrender a game in the first set against Indy de Vroome and converted on all three of her break points, but the 18-year-old Dutch lucky loser was competitive in the second set and actually served to make it 5-5. However, Halep broke for the sixth time to finish off her 6-0, 6-4 victory - the 19th in 23 matches since May for the WTA Rising Star.
"I really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was amazing," Halep said. "I was impressed with the crowd, and I'm really happy I was able to win in straight sets today. It was a good start to the tournament."
Halep had previously played in Romania in Fed Cup play and in ITF Women's Circuit matches, and in fact won four of her six ITF titles in Bucharest.
Also winning her opener was second-seeded Roberta Vinci over Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-2, 6-3. In the process, the Italian snapped a five-match losing streak and set up a second round encounter with Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, against whom she has never dropped a set in five meetings.
Hercog was two points from defeat in the third set against Katarzyna Piter, but pulled out a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(4) victory to set up a quarterfinal clash with Niculescu, who fought off two set points down 5-3 in the second set of her 7-5, 7-5 triumph over qualifier Elitsa Kustova.
Kucova made her first WTA quarterfinal with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Romanian wildcard Cristina Dinu.
And two days after winning 7-6 in the third set, Lara Arruabarrena did so again - this time 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6) over Cagla Buyukakcay in two hours and 40 minutes. The Spaniard had two match points against her at 6-4 in the third set tie-break but won four straight points to close it out.