"I lost a little bit of concentration" - Halep on close first-round victory in Madrid
The two-time champion pulled off a 6-0 7-5 victory on Friday, although this proved to be more difficult than anticipated. With a 5-1 lead in the second set, Halep faltered several times as her Spanish opponent clawed her way back to level the set at 5-5. However, Halep ultimately pulled through, winning the final two games to prevail after an hour and 23 minutes.
"She definitely played much better in the second set and she was more aggressive," Halep said after the match. "I lost a little bit of concentration at 5-1, and then I started to miss a little bit more. But even if I was a set and 5-1 up, I knew that she can come back. I expected a tough battle and it was."
The Romanian is seeking her 10th clay court title, and was facing an in-form opponent who had just won her maiden WTA singles title in Guadalajara.
"I knew that she is with confidence very high because she played very well in the last months," Halep admitted. "I knew that it's gonna be tough because she likes the clay, and her spin is not easy to return. But I knew also that I have my chance, so I'm happy with the win."
The World No.3 will meet Zheng Saisai in the second round, as the Chinese veteran battled past Magda Linette 6-2 3-6 6-1 in their first round encounter.