No.5 seed Bianca Andreescu survived a stern test from British wild card Sonay Kartal to advance to the second round of the Bad Homburg Open presented by Engel & Völkers 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours and 27 minutes.
It was the former US Open champion's second win in her third grass-court tournament of the season so far. Over the previous fortnight, Andreescu had reached the second round in 's-Hertogenbosch but fallen in the first round of Berlin to Viktoria Hruncakova.
Last year, Andreescu had made her debut in a grass-court final in Bad Homburg, falling to Caroline Garcia in the 2022 title match. She will bid to return to the quarterfinals against Spain's Rebeka Masarova, who had defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.
It will be the first encounter at pro level between Andreescu and Masarova, but the latter did win a high-profile junior meeting 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 in the 2017 Australian Open girls' semifinals.
No.264-ranked Kartal had been announced as Wimbledon's final main-draw wild card at the weekend after strong grass form highlighted by qualifying for Nottingham and reaching the Ilkley ITF W100 semifinals. The 21-year-old, a former junior peer of Emma Raducanu, was unranked in October 2021 after injury-wracked teenage years, but needed less than a year to crack the Top 200 for the first time.
Andreescu needed six break points to capture the Kartal serve in an extended opening game, but with that under her belt rolled through the first set, dropping just five points behind her own delivery.
But Kartal, bidding for both her first WTA main draw win and first Top 100 victory of her career, struck back with fine counterpunching and a series of excellent flat forehand strikes in the second set. A supreme forehand pass paved the way to the the sole break of the set for 4-2.
Andreescu seemed to have righted the ship as she built a 4-1 lead in the decider, with her improved form highlighted by a sharply angled volley to break for 2-0 and a forehand winner directly off a Kartal smash to hold for 3-0. But Kartal bounced back as Andreescu struggled with her footing, levelling at 4-4.
The contest went down to the wire, and Kartal battled valiantly in the last game to stave off the first three match points she faced. But another brilliant Andreescu pass brought up a fourth chance, and a forehand into the net from Kartal sealed the win for the Canadian.