BUPDAPEST, Hungary - The first edition of the Hungarian Ladies Open got off to a dramatic start on Monday, with No.2 seed and 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova needing a third set tie-break to dispatch Magda Linette, 6-0, 5-7, 7-6(4).
Safarova sailed through the opening set - barring a titanic eight deuce game at 4-0 - and appeared in control at the start of the second before Linette began to wrest control from the former World No.5
"I played really well until 3-1 in the second set, then I played a couple of loose games," she explained after the match. "Magda really picked it up and played well at the end of the second set; she served really well and started to put pressure on me.
"I was just trying to hang in there, play strong, play my game and wait for my opportunities. I'm happy I won the tie-break."
A tense decider went completely; even the sudden death featured just one mini-break, which the Czech veteran took to serve out a hard-fought victory after two hours and 23 minutes on court.
"I served really well in the tie-break and just played aggressive and made her make a few mistakes."
Up next for Safarova is former doubles No.1 Hsieh Su-Wei, who recovered from a set down to defeat Sara Sorribes Tormo in her first round match.
"I think we've played a couple of times already," she said of her 2-0 head-to-head advantage. "She's definitely a tricky player because she likes to mix up the speed of the ball with a lot of slices and drop shots. I'm looking forward to it."
The WTA returned to Hungary after nearly four years away, when an outdoor clay event last took place in 2013. Safarova has fond memories but is already enjoying her stay at this brand new event.
"It's really nice; I played in Budapest back when they had a tournament in the summer. This is the first time they're having an indoor tournament, and I'm really impressed with the facility. It's well organized and I'm very happy to be here."
As main draw qualifying completed on Monday, a few more main draw matches were completed before first round play begins in earnest on Tuesday; Donna Vekic ousted Ekaterina Alexadrova, 6-3, 7-5, while No.8 seed Annika Beck knocked out Jana Cepelova, 6-2, 6-2. No.6 seed Pauline Parmentier needed two tie-breaks to defeat Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).