Struggling former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard started her bid to qualify for the Grand Slam with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Zhu Lin on Tuesday.
Bouchard became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles final when she made the Wimbledon title match in 2014 before losing to Petra Kvitova.
But hampered by injuries and poor form, Bouchard has got to the quarter-finals of a major only once since then as she plummeted down the rankings.
Bouchard failed to make it beyond the opening round in two of her last three Wimbledon appearances and in January dropped out of the top 100 for the first time in five years.
The 24-year-old, ranked 191st, missed her first Grand Slam since 2013 when she failed to qualify for the French Open last month.
Wimbledon declined to give Bouchard a wild card, meaning the star was forced to embark on a first trip to unglamourous Roehampton for the qualifying event.
But Bouchard has shown signs of life on grass this month, reaching the quarter-finals in Birmingham before losing to Jennifer Brady.
She easily aced her first qualifying test, routing China’s Zhu in just 51 minutes.
However, Bouchard needs to win two more matches to secure her place in the women’s main draw at the All England Club.
Her next opponent is Slovakia’s Karolina Muchova on Wednesday.
“I’m pretty happy. It’s important on grass to start well. It was pretty solid,” Bouchard said.
Asked if it was difficult to have to qualify for an event she thrived in just four years ago, Bouchard said: “It’s not hard at all. I’m happy to be here.”
Another former Wimbledon finalist, Vera Zvonareva, also made it through the first round of qualifying, as the 33-year-old beat Japan’s Eri Hozumi 6-2, 6-3.
Zvonareva, beaten by Serena Williams in the 2010 final, took over two years off to get married and become a mother before returning in late 2017.
The Russian former world number two, who was a US Open finalist in 2010, plays Uzbekistan’s Sabine Sharipova in her next qualifier.
Sabine Lisicki completed the trio of former Wimbledon runners-up in qualifying action, but the 28-year-old German didn’t fare well.
Lisicki was in tears during the 2013 final as she was beaten Marion Bartoli in her only major title match to date.
Playing her first match for three months after a serious knee injury, Lisicki, whose ranking is down to 159, slumped to a 6-4, 7-6 defeat against Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya.
Konta books Eastbourne clash with Wozniacki
Britain’s Johanna Konta will face world number two Caroline Wozniacki at Eastbourne after cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Aleksandra Krunic on Tuesday.
Konta is warming up for Wimbledon as she aims to emulate last year’s run to the semi-final of the grass-court Grand Slam.
The 27-year-old benefited from Serbia’s Krunic hurting herself by slipping into the net during the first set. Konta’s second round win came in 74 minutes in sweltering conditions in the seaside town she lives in for much of the year.
It was a small measure of revenge for Konta losing to Krunic in the first round of last year’s US Open.
After becoming the first British woman to make the last four at Wimbledon for 39 years, Konta has struggled to maintain her progress.
The world number 22 changed her coach in December, but has failed to get past the second round of this year’s Grand Slams in Australia and France.
“I haven’t played Caroline in some time so I am looking forward to that battle,” Konta said of her showdown with the Australian Open winner.
“She is a Grand Slam champion this year. I am happy with how I played here, I knew Aleksandra would be difficult to face so I was glad I was able to keep my focus.”
Having begun confidently to break the world number 39 in the fourth game, Konta, given a first round bye, stuttered on her own serve before securing a further break.
It was then that Krunic was given lengthy treatment on her thigh.
Konta then secured the first of two further breaks in the fifth game of the second set before convincingly taking victory with a fine volley on match point.
There was also a strong performance from two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
The Czech star, who won the Birmingham tournament last weekend, saw off Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-3 to record her sixth succesive match victory on grass.
Konta’s fellow Briton Harriet Dart was eliminated after a 6-3, 6-4 defeat by Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
Dart, 21, had impressed on Monday in securing the biggest victory of her career by overcoming Czech Kristyna Pliskova.
With AFP inputs