RABAT, Morocco - No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova grabbed the first win of her clay court campaign, advancing into the second round of the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alexandra Dulgheru.
The international-level tournament is the WTA's lone stop in Africa, and has been staged in several cities in Morocco including Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech and finally Rabat.
Makarova, a former Top 10 player who reached the final in 2009 at the tournament's Fes staging, had little trouble against the Romanian. Dulgheru has struggled recently and hasn't won a match since January, but she owns the head-to-head record against Makarova with two wins in both of their previous encounters.
The match started out with five breaks of serve in the first six games, and Makarova scoring the lone hold to get ahead at 3-1. The Russian fought off three break points to keep the lead at 5-3, and stayed steady to close out the first set. Makarova cruised in the second set and closed out the match after one hour and thirty-six minutes.
No.5 seed Timea Babos - a finalist last year in the tournament's Marrakech staging - had a tougher road to the second round, surviving a rollercoaster second set to advance 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-1.
A pair of seeds weren't so lucky, as No.3 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and No.6 Annika Beck were sent crashing out of the first round. Kiki Bertens dropped just one game in her 6-0, 6-1 romp over Schmiedlova, and Teliana Pereira eased into the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Beck.
No.1 seed Timea Bacsinszky will wrap up Rabat's first round action tomorrow when she takes the court against Russian wildcard Anna Blinkova.