MONTERREY, Mexico - Two-time finalist and top seed Angelique Kerber worked her way through a tight opening round match at the Abierto GNP Seguros on Tuesday night, defeating Slovakia's Kristina Kucova, 7-6(4), 6-2.
The 2013 and 2017 runner-up in Monterrey, Kerber needed to fight through an opener in which she led by two breaks at 3-0, and also served for at 6-5, in a tiebreak, before easing through to a 91-minute victory.
The three-time Grand Slam champion scored her third straight win against the former Top 100 Slovak, and ironically, second in this week in the calendar, having also beaten her at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston three years ago.
"I was expecting a tough match, because I've played her many times already. She's a tough opponent," Kerber said on-court after the match.
"I was trying to play a good match, play aggressive. I'm so happy to be back here in Monterrey. I'm feeling like home here. It's great to have a good first round.
"I was twice here in the final, really close, and I will try and play every single match the best that I can play."
Overall, Kerber accumulated 30 winners to 28 unforced as the aggressor in the match, as Kucova hit just 19 winners to 30 unforced errors of her own.
Though both players served at over 70 percent for the match, the top seed proved more effective behind her delivery, winning nearly 60 percent of the points in her service games as Kucova finished at under 50 percent.
Kucova hit four double faults as well, as the German won a staggering 19 of 23 points played when the Slovak hit a second serve, and dropped serve six times in the match.
The German will next face Czech Karolina Muchova for the second straight tournament, after she came through a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 opener against qualifier Xu Shilin earlier in the day on Tuesday.
Last week at the Miami Open, Muchova led Kerber by a set, before the German won four straight games in the second set and eventually the match, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
On the prospect of facing Muchova for the second time in the span of just over a week, Kerber said: "We just played about two weeks ago, and we know what to expect from each other. I think it will be another good match."