With top-seeded Dominika Cibulkova withdrawing due to injury, Cirstea was the on-paper favorite to go all the way in Marrakech. On top of that, Scheepers came into Monday's clash just 3-8 in WTA matches this year. Nevertheless, from 3-2 down in the first set Scheepers surrendered just one more game the rest of the way for a 63 61 triumph over World No.26 Cirstea.
It was Scheepers' best win since topping World No.25 Christina McHale in Cincinnati last August. It was also the first time one of this event's Top 2 seeds lost their opener since Ma. Emilia Salerni defeated No.1 seed Sania Mirza in 2007.
"The conditions were quite tough. It was pretty windy and it's kind of a high altitude," Scheepers said. "I knew Sorana would be a very tough opponent. I was just trying to go out there and compete and make it as hard as possible for her.
"I thought I was really consistent and defended really well. I really tried to make her hit an extra ball and when I had the chance, I tried to be aggressive, so hopefully I can continue that."
Next up for Scheepers is María-Teresa Torró-Flor, who did not face a break point in her 58-minute, 61 61 rout of Arantxa Rus. The last time she played Rus, Torro-Flor was victorious in the first round of Bogotá in February en route to a WTA career-best quarterfinal showing.
Among those on Tuesday's schedule are No.3 seed Alizé Cornet, No.4 seed Kaia Kanepi and No.5 seed and defending champion Kiki Bertens. Kanepi has an especially tough opponent in Anabel Medina Garrigues, who has the lead among active players with 10 WTA clay court titles, including this tournament in 2009.