CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Despite a "tricky" ending as she served for the win, top seed Caroline Garcia enjoyed a relatively routine start to her campaign at the Volvo Car Open on Tuesday, dispatching American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-2, 6-3.
The Frenchwoman dropped serve just once in the match, winning over 70 percent of the points played behind both her first and second deliveries to secure a third round spot in one hour, 16 minutes.
Coming into the match with a 4-1 head-to-head advantage, Garcia held wins against the American at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Rogers Cup in Canada, but Tuesday's victory gave her four wins against Lepchenko on three surfaces.
"It definitely was a bit tricky at the end," the World No.7 said after the match. "She played a match yesterday, so she was already into the clay game. It was very windy so it was very difficult to have good rhythm on every shot, but I'm happy with my first match on clay.
"It was a little bit better than what I did in Miami especially, and we had some good work behind us from Miami and here."
— WTA (@WTA) April 3, 2018
Looking to bounce back from an earlier-than-expected defeat in Miami, where she lost to American Alison Riske in her first match to close out the spring hard court season, Garcia never trailed on the scoreboard in her first match on clay.
She also struck 22 winners over the course of the encounter to evenly balance out her total of 22 unforced errors.
"On clay courts, sometimes the ball can come back maybe once or twice more than on hard courts, so you have to be ready for it and just be a bit more patient," the Frenchwoman assessed. "Most important for me is to play my game and be aggressive, so that's what I'm trying to do, and when I have to defend, I try to slide the best I can."
Lepchenko was unable to find the same parity off the ground, as the World No.72 struggled to match her 28 unforced errors to just 10 winners.
The American No.7 dropped serve four times in the match, and was unable to convert on two break points in the final game to prolong the second round encounter.
"I moved a little bit better than her today, and I did less mistakes...I saved two break points [in the last game] with good serves. It was close in a couple of games and I was able to be a bit more aggressive and do some good points in important moments."
— WTA (@WTA) April 3, 2018
This week in Charleston, the 24-year-old is the top seed at a WTA event for the second time in her career - and her second crack has already been more successful than the first.
Last season at the Ladies Championship Gstaad at the top of the draw, Garcia was upended in the second round of her campaign as the No.1 seed by Tereza Martincova.
Next up for the World No.7 is the winner of the second round match between her 14th-seeded compatriot Alizé Cornet and Slovenia's Polona Hercog.
"It's nice to be the top seed, but I don't really look at this kind of thing," Garcia said. "It doesn't really matter to me, I'm just trying to play well, enjoy and do the best I can. I don't look at the draw, and I'm just trying to be focused on my game and on my tournament, what can I improve and enjoy my time on court and in this beautiful tournament.
"It's not extra pressure to be Top 10. You have already enough pressure, so to be seed one or seed two, it doesn't really matter."