STUTTGART, Germany - Magdalena Rybarikova slid through a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina to book a second round encounter with World No.1 Simona Halep at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
"She was definitely the favorite for this match. I could only pull off a surprise, and I think I did. I really played well, and I was surprised about that since clay isn't really my favorite surface," Rybarikova said after the match.
Rybarikova has enjoyed her best results on quicker surfaces - most notably on the lawns of Wimbledon, where she reached the last four in 2017 - but put on a clinical display to dispatch Kasatkina to advance after an hour and 15 minutes on court.
"It helps more to go from clay to grass, but there's not much I can take from grass to clay because grass court tennis is so specific. I feel like I can play more relaxed on clay because I don't expect too much from myself. All I can do is surprise, because it's not my strongest surface. I had a few good practices, and I was able to take that into the match.
In the midst of a breakthrough season with runner-up finishes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and BNP Paribas Open, Kasatkina was undone by 32 unforced errors and was unable to mount a comeback agains the Slovak veteran, who struck just six unforced errors to 14 winners.
"I was pleased with how I played, and she made a couple of mistakes; I don't think she was at her best, but I'm happy that I didn't let her play her game. I played mine well and I was able to win quite easily."
Awaiting Rybarikova in the second round is top seed Halep, who is coming off a successful Fed Cup weekend that saw her win both of her singles rubbers and lead Romania back into World Group I against Switzerland.
"I can be totally relaxed because she's one of the best players on clay, and is the top seed here. I can surprise her if I'm relaxed, and we'll see what's going to be. I have to play well to have a chance to beat her.