LINZ, Austria - Defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova got her title defense off to a winning start at the Generali Ladies Linz, needing less than an hour to dispatch Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets.
"I'm really happy with the way I played, I was ready for a really tough match because Anastasija has been playing really good tennis this year," Pavlyuchenkova said after the match. "I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I was ready from the start and I'm pleased with the way I played."
Pavlyuchenkova pounced on a sluggish start from Sevastova, breaking her serve in the opening game and bringing another opportunity in the tightly contested first set. Sevastova rallied to hold serve and stay within touching distance, but couldn't make up the deficit. Pavlyuchenkova went on to break three more times in the final set and close out the 58-minute victory, 6-4, 6-1.
"I think it's great to start the first round with a tough opponent," the Russian said. "I mean, the tournament is not going to get easier. It's good challenge for me. Hopefully I can continue to play the way I played."
"I'm so happy with the way I started here in Linz," Cirstea said after her win. "I had a great week of practice at home and I was hoping to carry that into the match, so I'm happy how it went."
It's a great boost of confidence for the Romanian, who is still coming back from a debilitating shoulder injury, which derailed her career and kept her off the courts.
"My life, in the past probably two or three years, has been a rollercoaster," she said. "I started the year at No.250 in the world, playing ITF events, really started from the bottom and I think I deserve to be here. I really wanted to get back here, and I know I can play some good tennis."