Irina-Camelia Begu and Wang Xiyu both survived the challenge of determined teenage wild cards to reach the second round of the Miami Open.
Begu came from 5-1 down in the second set, saving five set points along the way, to quell Alexandra Eala 6-2, 7-5 in 1 hour and 51 minutes. Wang raced out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead over Brenda Fruhvirtova, but had to hold off a fightback from the 15-year-old to advance 6-0, 7-5 in 1 hour and 31 minutes.
The reigning US Open junior champion Eala is already the highest-ranked Filipina player in history at No.219, and the 17-year-old was playing a Top 50 opponent for the first time. After going down an early break, Begu swept through the last six games of the first set, nailing a series of pinpoint down-the-line winners.
But Eala began to bring her heavy left-handed forehand to bear in the second set, as well as some nice touch at net. She held her first set point serving at 5-1, only for Begu to find a forehand winner into the corner.
At 5-3 to Eala, Begu came through a marathon eight-deuce tussle on serve that saw Eala's groundstrokes miss their mark on four more set points. From there, the Romanian rolled to victory, having once again reeled off the last six games of the set. Begu will face No.23 seed Zheng Qinwen in the second round.
Another gorgeous day at the #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/83GHsPj1pZ— TennisONE App (@TennisONEApp) March 21, 2023
Wang outclassed Fruhvirtova for the first half-hour of their clash. The Chinese World No.58 dropped just seven points in the first set, and 12 in the first nine games, as she easily overpowered the teenager.
But Fruhvirtova -- like older sister Linda -- is quickly gaining a reputation as a battler. Indeed, the World No.142 had come from 6-0, 3-0 down to win her last match, defeating Ankita Raina 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the Bengaluru ITF W40 final last week. With her back to the wall, Fruhvirtova locked down her groundstrokes on defense while sprinkling in drop shots to end points on her terms. A rattled Wang double faulted to hand the break back.
More Day 1 highlights: Wang Xiyu d. B.Fruhvirtova | Sebov d. L.Fruhvirtova | Bjorklund d. Paolini | Giorgi d. Kanepi | Golubic d. Baptiste
Hot shots: Mertens d. Parks | Siegemund d. Sherif
The closing stages of the match were tightly contested, and Fruhvirtova held a point to force a tiebreak. But Wang pulled through, finishing a 24-stroke rally with a forehand winner to convert her first match point and set up a second-round clash with No.29 seed Petra Martic.
Elsewhere, Anna Kalinskaya came from a break down in the first set to defeat another teenage wild card, Andorran 17-year-old Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, 6-4, 6-2. Kalinskaya will face freshly crowned Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina in the second round.
In a matchup of players who have made strong starts to 2023, Austin champion Marta Kostyuk also advanced 6-3, 6-2 over Hobart runner-up Elisabetta Cocciaretto.