LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Top seed Elise Mertens eased into the second round at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open on Tuesday with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over lucky loser Bibiane Schoofs.
Though seemingly straightforward on paper, however, the Belgian's path to her opening round victory proved anything but.
Before she even took the court, the top seed saw a total of four players placed opposite of her in the draw, only to eventually defeat the Dutch No.3 in 66 minutes.
The Belgian was initially drawn against Kateryna Kozlova, who withdrew with the same left leg injury that forced her to retire against eventual champion Coco Gauff last week in Linz, and two more lucky losers ahead of Schoofs were penciled in opposite her prior to Tuesday's match.
Mertens' compatriot Ysaline Bonaventure was first in the randomly drawn order, but was forced out with a left shoulder injury, and Swiss Stefanie Voegele, the next in, was also forced out with abdominal pain.
That led to the World No.157's entry, and Mertens cruised through the opener before the 31-year-old veteran found her form in a more competitive second set.
"I felt pretty good," Mertens said after the match. "The opponents changed from time to time - it was my fourth opponent, so I really just focused on myself and what I had to do."
Mertens lost just one point on serve - going a perfect 10-for-10 when she landed her first serve - over the course of the first 25 minutes, and bageled Schoofs with the loss of just nine points.
However, the Dutchwoman started brightly in the second set, as she broke serve to start the set and held to lead 2-0, but ultimately surrendered five of the next six games in defeat.
From 3-1 down, the World No.19 won the next five games - including a titantic tussle in the eighth game to score the decisive break, despite seeing Schoofs level at deuce from 0-40 - to book a place opposite either American Catherine McNally or former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, a wildcard, in the second round.
"It's like coming home a little bit," Mertens continued. "There was a crowd watching, and it's always nice that there's a full stadium. It's not too far from home, and I really love playing here, so hopefully I can go much further than this.
"It's a bit of a slower court, so going in front, to the net, playing aggressive will be key here."