Nervous Muguruza overcomes Flipkens at Indian Wells
(Reuters) - French Open champion Garbine Muguruza survived some nervous moments before overcoming Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 6-3 in her opening round match at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday.
The win by the seventh seed set up a second round match with U.S. teenager Kayla Day, who surprised Australian Open semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia in three sets 6-4 5-7 7-5.
After taking the first set and grabbing a 5-0 lead in the second before Flipkens rallied, Muguruza broke through for the sixth and final time in the match, striking 24 winners to 28 unforced errors.
"It was a difficult match," Muguruza said post-match. "She's very talented and she can hit some critical shots and she can be tricky."
The Spaniard won her third straight match against her rival on a hard surface after splitting their first four meetings, losing twice on grass.
"I think grass is a very tricky surface; you never know what's gonna happen," Muguruza said.
"It's always difficult to close out your first match. She's a very talented player, unbelievable, with a very different game. I got nervous!"
Day, 17, won the final four games of her match with the 32nd-seeded Lucic-Baroni to claim victory.
"I think I started to really believe I could win at 6-5 in the third," said Day. "It was still a really tough game, because I was a little bit tight to close it out. But my serve had been giving her a lot of problems, so I knew if I stuck to my game it might work out."
Among the seeds, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Ukrainian Elina Svitolina had the toughest assignments.
Fifth seeded Cibulkova outlasted Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 3-6 6-3 and the 10th seeded Svitolina needed three sets to defeat Wang Qiang of China 3-6 6-3 7-6(3).
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the eighth seed, defeated Johanna Larsson of Sweden 7-6(3) 6-4, and 11th seeded Johanna Konta prevailed 6-4 6-4 over Heather Watson in a meeting of British players.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)