EASTBOURNE, Great Britain – Belinda Bencic, the No.10 seed and 2015 champion, made short work of qualifier Veronika Kudermetova to progress, 6-3, 6-4, to the second round of the Nature Valley International.
In a first-round match pushed back to Tuesday due to inclement weather, the Swiss came out firing, showing the form that had taken her to the final of Mallorca the previous week.
The WTA World No.13 raced through the opening set in little more than 30 minutes, with her Russian opponent unable to land enough big first serves to trouble a player she had beaten in both of their previous meetings, including on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year.
Bencic showed that she is a player much improved over the last 12 months and gave little away when she got the ball in court off the return, providing the platform to claim the opener.
The first set, which was taken by Bencic as she broke twice and gave up serve only once, was largely dominated by the server. Greater inroads were made by both players in the second, but it was the higher-ranked player who made the breakthrough in the fifth game as her Russian opponent’s groundstrokes wobbled.
Although Bencic struggled with her serve in Mallorca, there were few signs of such trouble on the south coast of England as she kept a first serve percentage above 60 and served three aces to just a couple of double faults.
Consequently, she had no significant problems in serving the match out, booking her place in the second round after a couple of errors from Kudermetova, a deft touch volley and a powerful serve that was not returned.
Ekaterina Alexandrova is up next for Bencic, who has already defeated the Russian this year, having defeating the WTA World No.52, 6-4, 6-2 in Indian Wells.