British No.2 Elena Baltacha got her AEGON International qualifying campaign off to a winning start in Eastbourne, defeating world No.108 Kai-Chen Chang in one hour and 44 minutes.
Baltacha was quickest to adapt to the windy conditions on the opening day’s play at Devonshire Park, absorbing Chang’s flat, penetrating groundstrokes to take a see-sawing first set, before taking an early service break in the second to surge ahead for a 7-5 6-2 victory.
“It was a really good match for me because Chang’s very tricky on grass - she doesn’t go away and she can suddenly ping winners out of nowhere,” said world No.91 Baltacha. “I’m delighted to get through, obviously, especially because it was very windy out there and that made it tough.
“I have always loved playing in Eastbourne. The surroundings are lovely and the courts are fantastic, plus I’ve played well here in the past and that always helps. I thought the crowd were great today as well.”
It is the second time this week that Baltacha has beaten Chang, having knocked her out of the AEGON Classic in Birmingham on Wednesday. She will face either Fed Cup teammate Laura Robson or fellow Brit Daneika Borthwick in the second round of qualifying on Sunday.
British No.13 Oliver Golding posted a fighting victory over world No.102 Daniel Brands of Germany, ranked 380 places above him on the ATP World Tour, before falling to British No.4 Josh Goodall in the second round of qualifying 6-2 7-6(4).
Johanna Konta rounded off a day of good results for the British players defeating compatriot Naomi Broady 3-6 6-1 7-6(4). “It’s tough playing against a fellow countrywoman, said Eastbourne-based Konta who is bidding for a WTA main draw berth for the third time in her career. “There’s always that extra pressure so I’m just happy to have come out on top on that one.”
Qualifying play at the AEGON International continues on Sunday with matches scheduled to begin at 11am.