Having lost four of five matches coming into this event, Bucharest resident Niculescu looked right at home on Monday. On serve at 4-3 in the first set, she reeled off eight straight games en route to a 6-3, 6-0 victory that saw her convert on five of six break points.
"Klara is my doubles partner and good friend, so I was not happy when I saw the draw," Niculescu said of Koukalova, with whom she has captured two WTA doubles titles this season. "But I played a great match and am happy that I won.
"It was my first time playing at home other than a Fed Cup doubles match where my opponents retired after one game. I didn't know what to expect, but there were lots of supporters and the crowd was very loud, which was great. Hopefully, I will continue to advance and even more supporters will see me."
Also Monday, four players secured qualifying berths - Kiki Bertens, Sesil Karatantcheva, Anett Kontaveit and Elitsa Kostova. And though she lost her final qualifying match, Indy De Vroome was rewarded a spot into the main draw as a lucky loser with the withdrawal of Kristina Mladenovic. She will have her hands full in the first round, as she will take on No.1 seed Simona Halep.