PALERMO, Italy - Arantxa Rus needed just under 90 minutes to score her first clay court WTA main draw win in over a year on Monday.
The Dutch left-hander dispatched French qualifier Amandine Hesse, 6-1, 6-3, in the first round of the Ladies' Open Palermo, closing out the early evening session on Center Court.
The World No.130 broke serve five times in the victory, scoring just her second tour-level main draw victory of the season, and her first on clay since last year's BRD Bucharest Open.
"It's really warm here, so you really have to prepare for that. I'm happy with how I played. The first match is always difficult to start, so I'm actually happy," Rus said.
"I played a heavy ball on the clay, so it bounced high with the heat and the clay. I think that's a strength. We had some great points, and the score was easier than it was."
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Rus won the last five games of the first set, as she saved the lone break point she faced in the opener in the set's final game, and proceeded to break the French qualifier twice more en route to building a 6-1, 4-1 lead.
Looking ticketed for a first-round exit in just about an hour, the World No.259 put up a stern fight, as she sealed her first break of the match against the Rus serve, and then saved two break points of her own to close the second set gap to 4-3.
However, the former World No.61 settled down through the end of the match, as she got back on track with an east hold of serve, and sealed the victory with a third break in the set on her third match point.
Rus will next face the winner of No.3 seed Viktoria Kuzmova and Italian teenager Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and the Dutchwoman was already looking forward to another potential clash against the rising Slovak after the pair split two meetings in 2018.
"I know Kuzmova. I know her from WTA, and I played against her, I think, two times," Rus said.
"One time I lost, one time I won. She's a great player and has had good results, so I think it will be a good match for me."