Madison Keys made heavy weather in defeating Timea Babos at the Aegon Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham.
The American ace, who scooped the 2014 Aegon International at Eastbourne, is usually a formidable figure on grass but appeared distracted en route to her 7-6(3) 6-4 success.
— WTA (@WTA) June 13, 2016
Keys takes the opening set tiebreak over Babos 7-6(3)
Keys made amends for having lost to the 23-year-old Hungarian in their only previous grass-court contest, opening up what seemed like a commanding lead.
But Babos treated the Centre Court crowd to a live-wire encounter, outshining the #7 seed after her slow start.
Keys, a recent Italian Open runner-up to compatriot Serena Williams, made no mistake after a stuttering display to reach the lottery of a tiebreak.
And with a one set advantage, Keys cruised into a second set lead before another wobble but fought back to complete the job and beat Babos – who she had easily dismantled in straight sets in Rome.
“I played pretty well and I started off really well. There was definitely some bad moments out there, and the first match on grass is always really tough.
“Overall I was happy I was able to win, but definitely have some things to work on.”
Devonshire Park-bound Keys, the world #16, will face either British wildcard Tara Moore – who sensationally reached last week’s Aegon Open semi-final at Nottingham – or a qualifier in the next round.