MIAMI -- Less than two years removed from winning her the 2021 US Open girls title, Maryland's Robin Montgomery, 18, notched her first career win on the Hologic WTA Tour on Wednesday at the Miami Open. Playing in her seventh WTA main draw, the left-hander defeated Romania's Ana Bogdan 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.

Ranked No.193, Montgomery will face Madison Keys in the second round. 

Montgomery had good success as a junior talent, rising to No.5 on the ITF rankings. Her approach to her transition to the WTA Tour has been one focused on patiently building her game step by step.

"I think the game style that I have, it takes a little bit more time to put together because I have so many options that I can do with my game," Montgomery said last year at the San Diego Open. "It's just about the process. I'm not really concerned about rankings. I want to build my game first and make it as strong as it can be. The rest will come when that's all connected."

After injuries sidelined her for three months last season, Montgomery is still is looking to reach the Top 100. Even with limited experience, she has the game to match up with some of the toughest players on tour, as evidenced in San Diego when she defeated Bernarda Pera and Zhang Shuai to qualify for the main draw. 

"I think the biggest gap is probably pressure points," Montgomery said. "Playing pros, you think they're good and you think you need to overdo things. So it's believing that you don't need to do anything crazy. It's tennis at the end of the day. Just playing my own game and not freaking out by the person across the net.

"The main goal is tweaking the small details. I think that's what makes the difference between the Top 10 and the Top 50, on and off the court. So that's my goal: critiquing the small details."

Montgomery spoke to WTA Insider ahead of the 2023 season to discuss her passion for the game and what she's learned from watching her good friend Frances Tiafoe break through on the ATP Tour.

WTA Insider: What do you love most about tennis? 

Montgomery: I like solving problems. I like coming out on top and figuring it out, even when it's really difficult.

I was always fond of doing puzzles when I was little. I remember telling my coach, every match is like a different puzzle. You figure out which pieces go where and everything. Even now I'm surprised I even said that, I was 9. 

I also love competing, love winning, and I think those are the reasons why I still love it today. 

WTA Insider: Do you still like doing puzzles?
Montgomery: Last year when I traveled to Miami Open I had these mini puzzles that I would do. I should probably do more, but I always want to do the big ones and you can't travel with those. 

WTA Insider: You said you love competing. Do you remember a match or tournament when you had the most fun competing

Montgomery: I think San Diego, honestly. If not that, then in Templeton, where I made the W60 final. Those two moments were kind of like, all that matters is what you do on that day. Doesn't matter what happens tomorrow, doesn't matter what happened yesterday. 

Just that whole trip really helped me bring the spark back. It's why I love the sport. Playing against top players and still figuring out ways to beat them, even though I'm probably not as experienced as them.

WTA Insider: What are you looking forward to the most in your 2023 season?

Montgomery: I think I'm just excited to keep competing. After dealing with injuries, I just realized the simple things are what matter. If you asked me in August if I was playing Australia, that was definitely not part of the plan. There was no chance.

I think the mentality is just once again getting matches in. Really doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as I feel like I'm doing what I need to do to get better, that's all that matters to me. So it's baby steps. 

WTA Insider: Now that you're starting to play more tournaments on the Hologic WTA Tour, are there any players you're champing at the bit to play?

Montgomery: I kind of want to play Garcia. Her style seems different. I like the way she plays but I also want to see how it is actually playing against her. I don't want to say Iga just yet (laughs). Let me get a few more matches in. 

WTA Insider: Is there any tournament you're dying to play? 

Montgomery: I'm looking forward to the grass season. Any tournament on grass I'm excited to play. 

WTA Insider: Do you not like clay? 

Montgomery: Everyone's like, 'Why do you not like clay, you have titles on clay.' I can get comfortable on it, but at the same time, I would like to know that I'm not going to eat it if I slip on a line.

I know how to play on it. I grind on it. It is what it is. 

But it's more like I play it because it's there. If I could skip it, I would skip it [laughs].

WTA Insider: What do you do to pass the time at tournaments? 

Montgomery: I should probably figure out ways to bring puzzles because the main thing is I just watch Netflix or go on TikTok, so puzzles may be a better way to go. 

I do read occasionally if I find a good book. I'm reading Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. I think it's one of my first big-brain books. I'll probably have to re-read it to make sure I grasp everything.

But if I want an easy-going book, I read a lot of Colleen Hoover. I can read her books in a day. 

WTA Insider: You grew up playing alongside Frances Tiafoe at JTCC in College Park, Maryland. What does his success over the last 12 months mean to you?

Montgomery: It inspires me a lot. I'm just really happy to see him being successful and also doing it his way, showing people that you can have fun with the sport, you can smile and get the crowd involved and things like that. So it's not so black and white. So I'm very proud of him.  

Obviously, I'm not like Frances where I'm going to be laughing during the points, but seeing that he can do it his own way pushes me more to do it my own way as well. I think why we get along so well is because he's more of the giggling, get loose type, and I'm more like, No, you got to do this. 

He says he can't wait to see me celebrate when I win a big match, because he does a dance move or something funny. And then he's like, 'You're probably just going to walk to the net and act like nothing happened.' 

I mean, I probably will [laughs]. Rybakina does it. But I'll probably make a bet with him and I'll do one dance or something in my career.