No.7 seed Liudmila Samsonova was in irresistible form as she opened her Toray Pan Pacific Open title defense, motoring past Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 in the first round in just 61 minutes.
Samsonova has now won all six matches and all 12 sets she has played in Tokyo, having captured her fourth career title on her tournament debut last year. She improved to 2-0 against former Wimbledon semifinalist Maria, having also defeated the German 6-4, 6-4 in the 2019 Poitiers ITF W80 quarterfinals.
A near-flawless 25-minute first set saw Samsonova drop just three points on serve, and 11 points in total. Maria was able to get on the board at the start of the second, but missed two break point chances -- her only two of the match -- to move up 2-0. Instead, Samsonova escaped that danger and resumed control, finishing with 25 winners -- including seven aces -- to 15 unforced errors.
Samsonova will next face either Ekaterina Alexandrova or wild card Anna Kalinskaya in the second round.
Elsewhere, Rome finalist Anhelina Kalinina ended 19-year-old Ashlyn Krueger's five-match winning streak 6-3, 6-1. Krueger had captured her maiden Hologic WTA Tour title two weeks ago in Osaka, but fell in 71 minutes to the World No.28. Kalinina will next face No.5 seed Caroline Garcia, who received a performance bye into the second round after reaching last week's Guadalajara semifinals.
Cristina Bucsa also delivered an impressive first-round win, showing off plenty of all-court skills to defeat Japanese qualifier Rina Saigo 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard will next face No.2 seed Jessica Pegula.
No.1 seed Iga Swiatek will open against another Japanese qualifier, the in-form Mai Hontama. No.148-ranked Hontama, who reached her first tour-level semifinal two weeks ago in Osaka, came through 6-2, 6-4 against wild card compatriot Nao Hibino.
Meanwhile, No.3 seed Elena Rybakina was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to illness. The former Wimbledon champion has been replaced in the draw by Japanese lucky loser Himeno Sakatsume, who will face Linda Noskova in the first round.