SEOUL, Korea - No. 2 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova opened proceedings on Center Court at the KEB Hana Bank Korea Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen.
Alexandrova, now ranked a career-best World No. 39 and the new Russian No. 1, served nine aces and broke Minnen's serve four times to seal the opening round win in one hour and 26 minutes.
"The first match is always tough. It doesn't matter against whom you're playing," Alexandrova said.
"I didn't have a game plan. I just tried to do my best, and I think I did quite well. I'm happy with my result today. It was tough, but I'm happy that I finally got the win."
The Russian was quick out of the gates, looking for her second career win against Minnen in their first meeting in over three years, as she won five of the first six games.
Alexandrova's toughest test in that span came in a lengthy second game, as she held from 0-40 down, and saved four break points, in a five-deuce opening service game.
From leading 5-1, however, Alexandrova grew erratic on serve: for the entirety of the opener, she landed less than 50 percent of her first serves, and threw in six of her eight double faults for the match.
Given late life in the set, Minnen won three straight games, without ever needing to save set point, before the No. 2 seed wrapped up a one-set lead in three-quarters of an hour.
A run of games also went the Russian's way in the second set, as she eased her way across the finish line after tightly-contested early games.
Minnen saved break points in each of her first two service games of the set to stay in front, but her lone break point chance against Alexandrova's serve went unconverted in the fourth game.
Ultimately, the Russian upped her aggression, and consistency, both on serve and off the ground to win the match, as she served five aces and landed 63 percent of her first serves in set two, winning 87 percent of the points.
Alexandrova won the last four games of the match, as she racked up 27 winners to the Belgian's seven over the course of the encounter, to advance to a second round meeting with Kristyna Pliskova, who dispatched Korean wildcard Choi Ji Hee, 6-1, 6-4.