MIAMI, FL, USA - Beatriz Haddad Maia proved too good for Heather Watson and progressed on the first day of the main draw at the Miami Open with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.
The left-hander came under pressure in the first set, which the Brit had the opportunity to serve for. Once that was squandered, it was one-way traffic and the WTA World No. 64 progressed without too much trouble.
The pair had already met in Acapulco earlier this year, which Haddad Maia won in three sets, and she might have been pushed that far again had Watson managed to keep her cool when serving for the first set better. But the 25-year-old buckled under the pressure at 5-4 and it progressed all the way into a tiebreak.
In the extra game, the Brazilian, who had been devastating when her first serve found its mark, dominated matters, setting the platform for a far more comfortable second set.
The 21-year-old benefited from some rather passive play from Watson, who complained to her camp that she was simply pushing the ball crosscourt with every shot. She failed to remedy this problem, and barely managed to win half the points on her own serve as she was broken twice.
Victory for Haddad Maia means that she will face No.31 seed Zhang Shuai up next, while Watson is still without a win since Hobart, before the Australian open.
Previously, Ajla Tomljanovic showed incredible fortitude to overcome Lesia Tsurenko, 3-6, 6-4. 7-5.
The match looked as good as over as the World No.90 trailed 0-4 in the deciding set, yet she reeled off seven of the next eight games to win through in two hours and 23 minutes.
World No.41 Tsurenko won in Acapulco at the end of February and claimed the first set 6-3 but had problems converting points on her second serve, while her opponent was ruthlessly efficient when given opportunities to break. It was enough to allow the Australian to claim the second set.
The 28-year-old Ukrainian, however, stepped up her game in the decider to establish a 4-0 lead. It did not prove to be sufficient enough an advantage, however, as she wilted in the steaming Florida heat.
Even Tomljanovic's comeback was not without drama, though, as she saved a couple of break points when attempting to serve out the match before eventually winning through.
Earlier, Christina McHale had been the first player to win through to the second round, albeit in circumstances that she would not have liked. The American was trailing 1-3 in the first set to Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, whose injury jinx struck again as she was forced to retire.
In other early action, Johanna Larsson had to fight back from a set down to defeat Katerina Siniakova, 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5, in a match which lasted over three hours, while wildcard Amanda Anisimova also needed three to beat Wang Qiang, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
World No.230 and Wimbledon junior champion Claire Liu had an altogether more straightforward passage into the second round, easing past junior French Open winner Whitney Osuigwe, ranked No. 621, 6-3, 6-1 in a battle of two American wildcards.