Garbine Muguruza was made to work extremely hard for her 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Elizaveta Kulichkova at the Aegon Classic on Tuesday.
Muguruza, who won Roland Garros in 2016 and who reached the finals of Wimbledon in 2015, is currently ranked 15th in the world but was the overwhelming favourite against Russian qualifier Kulichkova.
Everything went to plan for the Spaniard in the opener as she produced some tidy grass court points that were finished by clinical work at the net.
However, in the second stanza the Russian threw a spanner in the works as she took on some daring shots and found some lines en route to taking it 6-3.
The decider was a tense affair but in the end it was Muguruza’s experience and management of the big moments that proved the difference between the two on the day.
Speaking afterwards, Muguruza admitted it was a tough match but said she was elated to have finally won a match in Birmingham at the third time of asking.
— Garbiñe Muguruza (@GarbiMuguruza) June 20, 2017
“She came from qualifying, and that means she’s already won three matches in a row here and I felt it,” Muguruza explained in her on-court interview.
“It was my first match on grass, and I feel a little bit like a rookie, but I’m happy.
“I have such good memories on grass in the past few years – but it’s my third time in Birmingham and first time I win a match! Finally!”
All the other results from the Aegon Classic on Tuesday can be seen below:
Alison Riske (U.S.) beat Donna Vekic (Croatia) 6-2 7-6(2)
Zhang Shuai (China) beat Magda Linette (Poland) 7-5 7-5
Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) beat Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 5-7 7-6(7) 7-5
Kristina Mladenovic (France) beat Duan Yingying (China) 6-3 7-6(2)
CoCo Vandeweghe (U.S.) beat Christina McHale (U.S.) 6-4 6-2
Ashleigh Barty (Australia) beat Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) 7-5 7-6(1)
Daria Gavrilova (Australia) beat Hsieh Su-Wei (Taiwan) 6-4 6-4
Johanna Konta (Britain) beat Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 6-3 7-6(6)
Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) beat Nao Hibino (Japan) 7-5 7-5
Camila Giorgi (Italy) beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva (Russia) 6-3 7-6(4)
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat Tereza Smitkova (Czech Republic) 6-2 6-3