Garbine Muguruza of Spain defeated Sloane Stephens in straight sets on Tuesday in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
The 6-3, 6-3 win sets up a match with American phenom Coco Gauff, who won her debut in Rome.
The two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza beat Stephens in 1 hour, 21 minutes in match delayed by an hour-long rain delay.
"I just had to adapt. I knew I had a tough match against Sloane, she's also a great player on clay," the ninth-seeded Muguruza said. "I'm just happy with my performance, since this is the third match I am able to play in a long time."
Muguruza was defeated in the second round of the U.S. Open, her only tournament since the tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Muguruza tallied 22 winners and broke Stephens four times.
Gauff defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-3 in her first main draw victory on clay. The 16-year-old was able to put consecutive first-round losses - including the U.S. Open - in the rearview mirror.
"I'm definitely happy to get a win today especially after a couple of tough losses back in New York," Gauff said. "I'm just happy to be playing. I think Ons played great today. She's a tricky player because she definitely changes the ball a little bit. I knew it was going to be tough, so to get a win over her on clay was really good."
Gauff was down 4-2 in the first set serving at deuce but took the final four games, taking advantage of 29 unforced errors by Jabeur. Gauff had to overcome seven double faults early in the first set.
Former doubles No. 1 Katerina Siniakova upset No. 15 seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1. The unseeded Czech needed just 68 minutes to snap a five-match losing streak and defeat Kerber for the first time in four tries.
Siniakova records her first top 30 win since defeating then No. 1 Naomi Osaka at last year's French Open.
In other action Tuesday, Daria Kasatkina defeated Russian countrywoman Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour, 20 minutes; Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova needed 2:15 to rally past Bernarda Pera, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3; Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva defeated Rebecca Peterson of Sweden in straight sets; Estonia's Anett Kontaveit got past Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-3, 7-6 (1); Polona Hercog needed 2:20 to defeat Slovenian countrywoman Kaja Juvan, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1; Romanian Irina Begu downed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy, 6-2, 6-2; Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands beat Iga Swiatek of Poland, 7-6 (5), 6-3; and Czech Marketta Vondrousova defeated Japan's Misaka Doi in the longest match of the day (2:33), 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
--Field Level Media