SHENZHEN, China - No.4 seed Irina-Camelia Begu had little trouble recording her first match win of the 2018 WTA season, taking down Chinese wildcard Liu Fangzhou in two tidy sets at the Shenzhen Open.
Begu, who is set to take the court again later in the day alongside World No.1 Simona Halep in doubles, made sure to conserve her energy in the 6-1, 6-2 rout.
Read more: Halep lines up for doubles in Shenzhen
The Romanian was in charge from the start; Liu struggled to find a first serve and Begu pounced on her weaker second delivery, marching ahead to a break to love. Begu stayed inside the baseline and didn’t allow her opponent much time to react, aggressive off both wings and closing the net effectively.
But Liu, who capped off her 2017 season with a late run to the final at ITF $100K Shenzhen, finally found her footing after wrestling to her first service hold of the match to get on the scoreboard at 4-1. It proved to be a confidence-booster for the 22-year-old, who went on to push Begu to deuce in the next game.
Her efforts weren’t enough to turn the tide against the Romanian, though, as Begu cruised to another break to love to close out the 28-minute opening set.
Begu faced her first real test of the match at the onset of the second set, when Liu came out firing on all cylinders to create three break point chances straightaway - Liu’s first look at breaking the Begu serve in the entire match. She still wasn’t able to convert as Begu batted away her chances to grind out a hold and kept Liu contained to notch back-to-back breaks, getting ahead 5-1.
Liu put in a mammoth effort to avoid two match points, finally converting on her sixth break point to stay alive as the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center roared in approval. Undaunted, Begu closed out the match on the second time of asking, breaking straight back to seal the 6-1, 6-2 victory after an hour and 10 minutes.
Begu stayed the more aggressive player across both sets, striking 17 winners to 12 unforced errors against Liu’s seven winners and 17 unforced. She took advantage of Liu’s service woes, converting on all six break points created, while Liu was able to convert just once in 10 chances.
Up next, Begu will take on either Ekaterina Alexandrova or a qualifier in the second round.