BARCELONA, Spain - Two of the craftiest young stars on the WTA scored upsets at the Barcelona Ladies Open on Wednesday, with Simona Halep pulling off the biggest one, outdoing No.4 seed Roberta Vinci - routinely, too.
Halep's rock solid topspin game had already carried her to Top 20 wins against Daniela Hantuchova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova this year, and in just 64 minutes she did it all over again against the No.18-ranked Vinci, 61 63.
"I played Roberta once before and she beat me, in Paris on hardcourts," Halep said. "I knew it would be a difficult match but I tried my best and am very happy how it went. The first match back on clay was tough for me this week, but I've improved day by day. I like it a lot here in Barcelona. I'm feeling great."
Barcelona remains Vinci's best tournament, this loss dropping her record here to a still-sparkling 15-2. She doesn't have double digit wins at any other event.
Carla Suárez Navarro, a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist who has been working her way back up the rankings after ankle and elbow injuries the last few years, recorded a 69-minute, 62 64 upset over No.6 seed Petra Cetkovska.
Halep and Suárez Navarro will now play each other in the quarterfinals, which are on Friday. Suárez Navarro leads Halep in their head-to-head, 2-1.
No.7 seed Sara Errani restored some order, crushing Spanish lucky loser Estrella Cabeza Candela, 60 62. Errani won the first 11 games of the match to lead 60 50, and had three match points in that game for a double bagel, but Cabeza Candela pushed the match a few games further before bowing out.
"The score was pretty easy but it was a tough match," Errani said. "We know each other very well because we practice together in Valencia. I don't think I was playing 100% today but I managed to play a pretty good match."
The last time Errani played on clay, she won her third WTA title in Acapulco. "I like clay and I play very well on clay, so I'm very happy to start the European clay court season now," said the Italian, also a winner at Palermo in 2008.
In the only other match to take the court, No.8 seed Polona Hercog was up an early break but ended up losing the first set to Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, and had to retire due to dizziness. She was coming off the best week of her career, making the semifinals of Charleston - her first semifinal at a Premier-level event.
Suárez Navarro wasn't the only Suárez to notch a victory on Wednesday - in doubles, newly-returned former No.1 Paola Suárez got another win on the board, with Shahar Peer - they upset No.3 seeds Olga Govortsova and Vladimira Uhlirova, 62 26 108. Peer and Suárez rallied from 5-1 down in the breaker.
The second round wraps up at the International-level event on Thursday.