TAIPEI CITY, Chinese Taipei - No.4 seed Timea Babos overcame a slow start to move safely through to the second round of the Taiwan Open on Wednesday, dispatching Australian Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 6-2.
The Hungarian was the last first-round winner in Taipei, but was the highest-seeded player remaining in the draw before she even took the court following opening round exits by top seed Peng Shuai, No.2 seed Zhang Shuai and No.3 seed Samantha Stosur across Monday and Tuesday's action.
Babos, coming off her first Grand Slam doubles title alongside Kristina Mladenovic at the Australian Open, won nine of the last 11 games of the first round match in her return to singles play, after seeing an early break lead evaporate in the first set against Rodionova.
"It was a very difficult match from the very beginning, Arina made me run a lot," Babos said after the match. "She's a very tricky player with all the slices and drop shots. It's a pretty slow surface so it's not easy to get used to it, but after the middle of the first set, I found my way and I started to play really well."
It was Babos' increased aggression which won out on the afternoon, as she struck double the amount of winners to Rodionova in the first set (12) to balance out nearly double the unforced errors (12 to 7).
Overall, Babos walloped 30 winners to 23 unforced errors in the match, tripling Rodionova's overall winner count. The Australian ended the match with 10 winners to 12 unforced errors.
The World No.45 was forced to save break points in each of her first two service games in the opening set, and though she broke first in the fourth game, was quickly pegged back to 3-3 thanks to a break and hold in short order by the Australian No.5.
However, Babos held at love to right the ship in the first set, the first of seven consecutive games which allowed her to stamp her authority on the first-round encounter.The Hungarian did not face a break point for the duration of the second set, as she was taken to deuce just once - but came through the test in the sixth game.
Rodionova offered some late resistance, saving three match points in a marathon eighth game of the set to hold serve, but Babos would not be denied her fourth chance, sealing victory in one hour, 12 minutes with a chipped forehand winner after chasing down a drop shot.
"[The court] here is very different for me than Australia, which was very, very fast, but in general, my favorite surface is indoor hard so I'm very happy to play here," Babos said.
The No.4 seed advances to face Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic, who surrendered just one game in defeating another Australian in Lizette Cabrera, 6-0, 6-1.