Using just 59 minutes, Ekaterina Makarova put in an impressive display as she ousted the dangerous Jennifer Brady in the first round of the China Open, triumphing with a 6-3, 6-3 scoreline. The emphatic Russian only conceded two break points throughout the contest, which all came in her opening service game, and broke serve thrice to clinch the win comfortably in straight sets.
The in-form Russian will now face another compatriot in the second round as she set up a blockbuster meeting with former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, with the match being played on Tuesday.
Tight start to the match
Brady came into the match firing and earned the best possible start when she powered herself to clinch her opening service game, looking in top form. A big server, the American reached the second week of the Australian Open and the US Open this year, with her run in Melbourne being her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. Therefore, Brady is definitely not an opponent to underestimate.
Makarova was unable to find the rhythm on her serve early on, gifting Brady two break points with some unforced errors. Nonetheless, the Russian was able to escape from the brink and get on the scoreboard with a narrow service hold.
Makarova takes the first set
Unexpectedly, it was Makarova who made the first breakthrough as Brady looked extremely inconsistent, throwing in two double faults and other errors at the baseline for her higher-ranked opponent to take the lead. Slowly settling into the match, the Russian easily consolidated the break for a 3-1 lead.
Both players soon became very solid on their serves, with Brady being the closest to break serve in the next few games but Makarova stood firm in a challenging service game to remain in front on the scoreboard. Consecutive love service holds followed before the world number 35 broke serve for the second time in the tight contest to clinch the first set 6-3 after just 29 minutes of play.
Makarova edges closer to the win
Carrying over the momentum from the first set, Makarova was looking incredibly solid on her first serve, losing just a mere four points behind those powerful and consistent first serves in the opening set. A slight misfocus for Brady then saw her being easily broken to 15, and she was in all kinds of trouble as she was unable to find her groove and Makarova did not seem like slipping up anytime soon.
Makarova seals the win despite a slip-up
Makarova was strolling through the second set as she consolidated the break before earning another three break points in the fourth game for a double break advantage. Unexpectedly, Brady came out of nowhere and rattled off the next five points, clinching the much-needed and confidence-boosting service hold which got her onto the scoreboard in the second set.
Nevertheless, Makarova was not greatly affected by her inability to convert her opportunities, soon finding herself edging closer to victory when she held serve for a 5-2 lead. Moments later, the Russian comfortably served out the match, sealing a place in the second round with a forehand winner.