PUNE, India - The second round of the inaugural Royal Indian Open kicked off on Wednesday, and it was a mixed bag for the seeds - Donna Vekic, Elina Svitolina and Tamarine Tanasugarn moved on, while Eva Birnerova fell.
The No.3-seeded Vekic was the highest seed in action and, after a tough second set, bageled Oksana Kalashnikova in the third set to win, 62 46 60.
Vekic made headlines a few months ago with a run to the final in her first WTA tournament in Tashkent, and she's currently sitting just outside the Top 100 at No.118. The 16-year-old is actually the youngest player in the Top 500.
"Tashkent was a great week for me - I gained a lot of experience that I'm using now and will use in future matches," Vekic commented. "Now I just want to improve my ranking. I'm always improving as a player, and my ranking has been going up quite quickly recently. It motivates me to keep working hard.
"Even though I'm quite young, I'm quite mature, and I've always competed with older girls so I think I matured earlier. And I've been working very hard for the last 10 years with my team, they've helped a lot, and hard work pays off."
The No.7-seeded Svitolina routed Indian wildcard Rutuja Bhosale, 63 60, while No.8-seeded Tanasugarn squandered a 4-1 lead to drop the opening set but regrouped to beat Cagla Buyukakcay in a long three-setter, 46 63 63.
Like Vekic, Svitolina is a potential future star on the WTA - she is a former French Open junior champion currently on the verge of the Top 150 - but Tanasugarn is another story all together. A former Top 20 player and four-time WTA champion, Tanasugarn also has many firsts for Thailand - the first Thai to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal (at Wimbledon in 2008) and the first Thai to beat a World No.1 (beating Dinara Safina in 2009). She played her first WTA event in 1993 - before the teen-aged Vekic and Svitolina were born.
The only upset of the day saw another Thai, Luksika Kumkhum, overcome a one set deficit and 15 double faults to beat No.4-seeded Birnerova, 36 63 61.
"I'm the first set she was playing so fast I couldn't keep up," Kumkhum said. "In the second set I tried to keep more in the court and not miss easy shots.
"I'm really happy to win. I'm really enjoying this tournament and I have a lot of fans here in India - I played junior tournaments here a lot as well."
The second round of the WTA $125 Royal Indian Open wraps up on Thursday.