INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Kirsten Flipkens overcame both the conditions and a battling Eugenie Bouchard at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday night, booking a second round spot by virtue of a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 victory.
On a windy and cold night in Indian Wells, the Belgian veteran used her variety to great effect, routinely pulling off hot shots to counteract the Canadian's power hitting in over two and a half hours.
"I think it was very tough conditions in the beginning," Flipkens said. "The first two sets were so windy, and it was not a matter of playing tactically, it was just a matter of trying to put the ball in court and put the first serve in the court.
"From the third set on, we could play a little more tactically. It could've gone one way or the other. I had a good mental thing at 5-5, because I had a match point at 5-4 serving for the match."
A tense decider lasted over an hour on its own as Bouchard saved two match points late in the set, having been behind by a service break since the third game.
Nonetheless, the veteran steadied through the final moments of the match, having lost match point on her as the result of an unsuccessful Hawk-Eye challenge, and sealed the victory by earning the last two games.
It was Flipkens' second win over Bouchard in as many days, as she and Johanna Larsson defeated Bouchard and Sloane Stephens in first round doubles action on Wednesday, 6-1, 6-2.
"Doubles and singles is sometimes even a different sport," the Belgian said of her feat. "Of course, it's always great to have a win under your belt before going to your first singles round, and I'm just happy with this win, yesterday and today as well."
From 3-0 and 5-3 up in the first set, Flipkens needed to navigate past stern resistance from the 2014 Wimbledon finalist, seeing Bouchard draw even at both 3-3 and 5-5 before she eventually claimed the opener.
A mid-set surge helped Bouchard send the first career meeting between the two to a decider, as she broke the Belgian's serve in the fifth game, and came through a tight game on her own serve to help extend a lead that she never relinquished.
In total, however, Flipkens had the answers in a match of contrasting styles. She won 22 of 32 points in which she ventured to net, with many of her 34 winners coming off of her racquet in the forecourt.
Despite landing just 49 percent of her first serves in the match, the World No.53 saved half of the break points she faced, and went 5-for-13 on her opportunities on Bouchard's serve as the Canadian racked up 42 unforced errors to 23 winners in the match.
The 33-year-old Belgian will next face American No.25 seed and Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins in the second round.
"I think it's going to be a tough match for sure," Flipkens said. "Danielle had a great run last year and this year also in the Australian Open. I'm going to prepare well, try to recover well, and I'm looking forward to the second round."