No.15 seed Simona Halep wasted no time in kicking off her 2022 National Bank Open campaign with a 6-0, 6-2 defeat of lucky loser Donna Vekic in just 61 minutes.
Halep is a two-time champion in Canada, winning the Montréal edition of the tournament in 2016 and 2018. Her best showing in Toronto to date was in 2015, when she was runner-up to Belinda Bencic.
The former World No.1 retired due to illness while trailing Anna Kalinskaya in the second round of Washington last week, but was on top form as she sped past Vekic for the third time in three meetings. Halep had never previously lost more than five games in a match to the Croatian, but this was the most one-sided scoreline of the series yet -- as well as her most emphatic victory since beating Marta Kostyuk 6-0, 6-1 in the Cluj-Napoca semifinals last year.
In the second round, Halep will face either Zhang Shuai or qualifier Cristina Bucsa, whom she defeated in the first round of Washington 6-3, 7-5.
By the numbers: Halep delivered a near-flawless balance of aggression and accuracy. She fired 16 winners to only eight unforced errors, of which four were double faults. In the first set, Halep did not commit an error once the rally was in play.
A handful of lung-busters early on set the tone, as Halep proved able to track down everything Vekic threw at her and redirect it to stay on the front foot. The World No.82 had few answers, committing 24 unforced errors to only five winners.
Vekic, who faces break point in each of her service games, can draw some comfort from being able to win both of her games from 0-40 down. Towards the end of the second set, she began to find some success by deploying the dropshot -- but, facing a second match point, gave it too much air. Halep was able to swat away a forehand for a clean winner and advance with little fuss.
It gives me confidence, the way I played - it's not about the result, it's the way I played. I played aggressive, very fast.