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Sorana Cirstea wins to open title defense in Istanbul

Syndication: Desert Sun

Sorana Cirstea hits a shot in her loss to Simona Halep during the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., March 15, 2022. Bnp Monday Week Two 8

Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

ISTANBUL -- Defending champion Sorana Cirstea won her opening match at the Istanbul Championship, beating Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

The 32-year-old Romanian ended a 13-year wait for her second career singles title last year when she upset Elise Mertens in the final. The second-seeded Cirstea next faces Dutch player Arantxa Rus at the the clay-court competition.

Third-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia also advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over compatriot Marina Melnikova.

Mertens is again the top seed in Istanbul and plays a first-round match against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden on Wednesday, when fourth-seeded Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine faces Petra Martic in the first round.