Auckland – Teenager Ana Konjuh announced her WTA arrival in style at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday, eliminating top seed Roberta Vinci in her debut tour appearance.
The Croatian, who turned 16 on Friday, came from behind to stun Vinci 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and book a place in the second round.
“It's amazing, I can't believe I just did it,” said Konjuh after capping a breakthough 2013 which included winning the junior Australian and US Opens.
“It was a great match, great experience for me. I just hope I'm going to recover to play tomorrow.”
Konjuh, ranked 259, started slowly against the world number 14
but blew the Italian veteran off the court in the second and third sets, showing no sign of nerves.
“I was like 'don't even think about winning the match, just play every point like it's your last and give 100 pecent of yourself' Ä and I did it,” she said.
Earlier, former world number one Ana Ivanovic ground out a scrappy win over American Alison Riske.
The Serbian prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) in just under two hours but looked unconvincing against Riske, who is ranked 41 places below the world number 16.
Ivanovic, seeded second in Auckland, had to save four set points in the second set, relying on her serve to get her out of trouble.
The 26-year-old, whose career has stalled since she claimed her sole Grand Slam at the French Open in 2008, admitted nerves got the better of her at times as she face the plucky Riske.
“It was a tough first round and I was really happy to get through that second set,” she said. “I think there was a bit of wind and nerves.”
Third seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium downed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-4, 7-5 but said she needed to lift her intensity in the next round.
“I was happy with my serve, in the important points it was there,” she said. “The thing I can improve in the next match is to be more aggressive.”
Flipkens' compatriot Yanina Wickmayer, a finalist here last year, crashed out 7-6 (7/3), 6-0 to Czech qualifier Kristyna
Fourth seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania capitulated 6-1, 6-4 to Canada's Sharon Fichman, while Ayumi Morita of Japan ousted Czech sixth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7/2), 6-3. – Sapa-AFP