HIROSHIMA, Japan – No.2 seed Veronika Kudermetova made serene progress at the Hana-cupid Japan Women’s Open as she defeated Varvara Lepchenko, 6-4, 6-2 in 89 minutes.
There was a scare for the WTA World No.51 early in the match as she quickly fell 3-0 behind, having been broken once, but after ultimately clawing her way back to parity, she accelerated away to claim a straightforward success.
It was the American who was quicker out the blocks as she won a couple of tight early games, which both went to deuce.
Although Kudermetova broke back to trail 3-2, she immediately lost her serve again.
This was the catalyst, however, for an improvement. She strung together three successive games, losing only three points in the process, before holding to claim the opening set.
The second proved to be a little tighter, with the serve of the Russian notably more potent as she hit her three aces of the match and chalked up 83% of points won on her first serve.
Lepchenko had stemmed the bleeding with a hold to love in the opening game but after being broken when she next had the balls in hand, she was unable to make a significant impression on her opponent’s delivery.
Kudermetova had augmented her advantage by the time she came to serve for the match, sealing it at the second time of asking after her opponent had pushed her to deuce.
She will face either Christina McHale or Greetje Minnen in the second round.
Elsewhere in the draw, there were no hiccups from the seeded players.
No.3 seed Alison Van Uytvanck defeated compatriot Ysaline Bonaventure, 6-4, 6-2 in 71 minutes, the WTA World No.68 saving six of eight break points in succession and at one stage winning 16 successive points as she dominated the opening stages of the second set.
She will face another Belgian in round two, with Kirsten Flipkens having negotiated the challenge of Liudmila Samsonova with a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory that lasted just shy of two hours.
Samsonova was broken when serving for the first set and thereafter lost her momentum before rallying too late in the day to salvage her position.
Zarina Diyas, the No.3 seed, made rather more straightforward progress as she beat Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, 6-2, 6-2 in 79 minutes in a match in which she fashioned 15 break points.
The other winner on Monday was Priscilla Hon, who edged Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa, 6-0, 1-6, 6-4 in a topsy-turvy encounter.