Safarova was coming off a dramatic loss to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the first round of Stuttgart last week. Not only was it the first WTA match to consist of three tie-breaks in almost four years but at three hours and 23 minutes, it was the third-longest match of the season so far.
A three-setter with Magdalena Rybarikova would be expected, as their three previous encounters went the distance. Sure enough, it did, but was one-sided after the first set. Safarova did not surrender a game from there and won the last eight points of her 46 60 60 triumph. The Czech converted on eight of 13 break point chances and won 25 of 31 points on Rybarikova's second serve.
"I came from indoors in Stuttgart," Safarova said. "The conditions here are very different. It was windy and I struggled in the first set. Magdalena mixed the ball well with slice. Then I started to play better."
Safarova has pleasant memories in Oeiras, having captured her first WTA title here as an 18-year-old in 2005 and having been a semifinalist in 2007.
The day's other three-setter saw Bojana Jovanovski convert on five of seven break point opportunities in her 64 46 64 victory over Monica Puig. Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova and Ons Jabeur also won their openers.
Doubles winners included third-seeded Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. The Americans collected 10 WTA titles as a duo in 2011 and 2012, including the 2011 US Open and WTA Championships. They reunited this year in Miami and Charleston, but lost in the first round of both events. Raymond is playing this event for the first time in a professional doubles career that dates back to 1990.