Auckland - Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard
launched her comeback year in winning form as she cruised through her first
round match in the WTA Auckland Classic on Monday.
Olympic champion Monica Puig also sailed through to the
second round on a day in which none of the seeded players appeared.
Former world number five Bouchard has earmarked 2019 as her
comeback year after sliding down rankings following a standout 2014 when she
made the Wimbledon final and was a semi-finalist in Melbourne and Paris.
Now ranked 87th, the Canadian proved too strong for the 88th
ranked Madison Brengle, taking just over an hour to beat the American 6-3, 6-3.
The 24-year-old mixed glimpses of her previous best with
some unforced errors but overall gave herself a pass mark.
"I think it was OK," Bouchard said.
"It was the first match of the year, so you never know
what to expect from your level, so I'm happy I managed to handle my nerves.
"I liked that when things didn't go so well I managed
to turn it around relatively quickly, maybe a game or two went by, but then
that was it and I managed to get back to playing my game."
Puig was untroubled in her 6-3, 6-2 win over American
wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands while 2017 champion Lauren Davis advanced with a
6-2, 6-2 win over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena.
Davis will face the winner of the blockbuster clash on day
two between former world number ones Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka.