Top-seeded Steffi Graf routed Zina Garrison, 6-0, 6-3, Wednesday night in the opening round of the Virginia Slims Championships, sweeping the first eight games before losing her serve in the third game of the second set.
But the 18-year-old West German regained control, broke Garrison's serve to take a 4-2 lead and closed out the 47-minute match at New York's Madison Square Garden with an ace.
"I haven't played a tournament for three weeks, so I was eager to play the match," Graf said. "I was really concentrating well."
Graf had split two previous three-set matches with Garrison, ranked No. 9 in the world. But Garrison never mounted a serious challenge Wednesday night, losing 59 of the 92 points.
"She's so quick," said Garrison, 24, of Houston. "I'm used to hitting shots that would be winners against any other player, but she gets to them."
In other first-round matches, fourth-seeded Pam Shriver beat Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and seventh-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia defeated Lori McNeil, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Sukova, who will meet Graf in the quarterfinals of the $1-million, 16-player tournament tonight, rallied after a slow start to beat McNeil.
It was Sukova's eighth straight victory over the 23-year-old player from Houston.
McNeil broke Sukova to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, but the 6-foot 2-inch Sukova broke right back and went on to even the match at one set each.
"I think I became a little cautious in that (fifth) game," McNeil said. "Looking back, I think I would have hit my serve a little harder."
In the final set, Sukova broke McNeil to take a 2-1 lead and then cruised to victory.
Shriver, ranked No. 4 in the world and winner of four tournaments, conceded only the fourth game of the opening set, but the 18-year-old Maleeva broke her service in the sixth and eighth games of the second set.
Shriver broke to a 3-1 lead in the final set, only to see Maleeva break back in the fifth game. After Shriver wasted two break points in the sixth game, she fell behind 0-30 in the seventh before holding.
Shriver made the decisive break in the eighth game of the final set, then staved off a break point by Maleeva in the next game.
In the second round, Shriver plays Katerina's big sister, Manuela.
Top-seeded Pat Cash of Australia and second-seeded Andres Gomez of Ecuador scored straight-set victories in their opening matches of the $375,000 South African Open at Johannesburg.
Cash defeated Michael Robertson of South Africa, 6-2, 6-2, and Gomez beat another South African, Danie Visser, 6-1, 7-5.
In other action, fourth-seeded David Pate was upset by Francesco Cancellotti of Italy, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3, while third-seeded Brad Gilbert beat Pieter Aldrich of South Africa, 6-2, 6-1.