Svetlana Kuznetsova breathed a sign of relief in the Centre Court sunshine after narrowly seeing off the challenge of plucky Qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6(5) 6-4 in 101 compelling minutes.
The veteran Russian ace, who remains in the world’s top 30, lost her service game three times during a shaky opening set by broke Rybarikova as the contest was forced to a tiebreak.
Kuznetsova’s power play and all-round court game payed dividends on the tense tie-breaker and gave the former Eastbourne champion a much-needed boast going into the second set.
Rybarikova went neck-and-neck with Kuznetosva, both producing a polished performance and holding their serves with ease.
But the Slovakian world #66, serving to stay in the tournament lost her way and had no answer to Kuznetsova’s thunderous groundstrokes to lose all four points and tumble out of the event.
Whilst the pretty 26-year-old has only the Devonshire Park practice courts ahead of Wimbledon, Kuznetsova faces #15 seed Flavia Pennetta in a 2nd Round clash. Penneta became the first female ace from Italy to gain a world’s top 10 ranking, climbing to a personal best of #10 in August 2009.