RABAT, Morocco - Britain's Laura Robson is back to her winning ways after a long injury layoff plagued with false starts - the former No.27 scored her first WTA main draw win since 2013 at the GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, advancing past Ghita Benhadi 6-1, 6-1.
Robson, who capped her promising juniors career by winning the Wimbledon Junior Girls Championship at 14 years old, found her professional career derailed by a left wrist injury and subsequent surgery that kept her sidelined for 17 months. She currently sits at No.426, but her ranking is expected to rise inside the Top 300 after the victory at Rabat.
The Brit's performance against 18-year-old Moroccan wildcard Benhadi showed signs of Robson's pre-injury form: she broke Benhadi's serve six times and won 67% of her own first and second serve points.
Speaking earlier this year at Indian Wells, Robson said playing matches pain-free for the first time in two years has helped build her confidence.
"I'm not scared to hit [my serve] any more," she said. "I am getting a couple of miles per hour on serve and the forehand, even if it doesn't go in. It's that nice feeling of not being scared to go for it anymore."
Robson, who is making her Rabat debut this week, also expressed plans to take full advantage of her protected ranking that's set to expire at Eastbourne, one week before Wimbledon.
"As much as I'd like to get more matches in at qualifying level and things like that, it would be a waste not to use [my protected ranking]," Robson said.
"I plan to play virtually all the clay-court season and the French Open and I think I'll still have one left for the first week of the grass."
Yay! ?? #happyandhealthy
Also through to the round of 16 is the top seed Timea Bacsinszky, who had little trouble cruising past Russian wildcard Anna Blinkova, 6-4, 6-2.
Lucky losers Richel Hogenkamp and Sara Sorribes Tormo made good on their second chances; Hogenkamp knocked out No.4 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3, 6-4, and Sorribes Tormo dominated the Tunisian wildcard, 6-0, 6-2.