PALERMO, Italy - No.6 seed Donna Vekic claimed the first WTA main draw victory of the day - and the first in almost five months - as she fought past Arantxa Rus in straight sets at the Palermo Ladies Open.

Vekic raced out of the gates looking like she’d never been away, powering through the opening set without dropping serve and closing out the match in just over an hour and 15 minutes, 6-1, 6-2. 

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“I’m definitely a little bit surprised [at the score],” Vekic told press via a video call after the match. “It was very tricky conditions, it was very windy so the ball was a little bit all over the court. 

“I’m just definitely happy that I didn’t forget how to play tennis, how to play matches, how to win. It’s a huge relief.”

Despite the one-sided scoreline, Dutch player Rus did well to keep the pressure on her opponent, saving seven break points in the process. But Vekic successfully broke the Rus serve six times in total, and reeled off eight games in a row as she took the first set 6-1 and started the second with a 2-0 lead. 

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That’s when Rus seemed to find her rhythm, and finally got a foothold in the match to break Vekic and level the score at 2-2. But the Croat’s serve had been firing all match long, and it bailed her out of trouble as she reasserted her control: Vekic won 77% of points behind her first serve, and closed out the match to win 6-1, 6-2.

2020 Palermo highlights: Vekic races past Rus

Highlights

“I was really nervous yesterday, and even more today,” Vekic admitted. “But after the first two games, I just kind of relaxed and I was focused.”

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Into the second round in her Palermo debut, Vekic awaits the winner between Polona Hercog and Italian wildcard Elisabetta Cocciaretto in her next match.