MIAMI, FL, USA - After having her run at the BNP Paribas Open stopped by eventual champion Naomi Osaka, Greece's Maria Sakkari continued her strong form in the sunshine swing with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Aleksandra Krunic in the first round of the Miami Open.
The only player to take a set off Osaka in the California desert, the Greek arrives at the second Premier Mandatory stop of the season having scored a statement win at the first event, having taken out CoCo Vandeweghe in the last fortnight.
On Tuesday night, Sakkari pulled away late after edging out a tight opening set, in a match between two players with just three ranking places between them.
"I played really well in the important points, so I think that's why I got the win," Sakkari said after the match. "It's different [than Indian Wells]. It's warmer, the courts are slightly different, and the wind is the main difference."
The World No.52 earned the first break of the match, only to see Krunic answer back straight away, but Sakkari never lost serve again as she worked her way to victory in a nearly 90-minute victory.
Krunic earned herself break points in three of Sakkari's four service games in the second set, but the mini-battles each went in the Greek's favor as she saved 11 of the 12 opportunities that Krunic held.
Sakkari next faces the No.28 seed, Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, in No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki's section of the draw.
Other winners on Tuesday night included Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who held off a late charge from Mihaela Buzarnescu to advance, 6-2, 6-3 to set a second round match with defending champion and No.11 seed Johanna Konta.
Hungary's Timea Babos ousted Mona Barthel, 7-6(5), 6-3 while American wildcard Bernarda Pera gave the home fans reason to cheer with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Lara Arruabarrena.
The World No.105 Pera had her hands full as she tried to score an upset over the World No.68, as she saw a 5-3 lead slip and needed to save a break point at 5-5 en route to winning the opening set.
It was an adventurous second set, however, that secured Pera a straight-set victory, as she nearly saw the Spaniard come all the way back from a 5-0 deficit. Arruabarrena won four straight games and saved nine match points in the process, but never got to game point on her serve in the 10th game as Pera wrapped up the win on her 10th chance in one hour, 48 minutes.
Pera will next face No.22 seed and Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens, while Babos earned herself a match with No.6 seed Jelena Ostapenko.