| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The first round of the BNP Paribas Open main draw got underway on Wednesday and last summer’s Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico was one of the opening day victors, blowing past American Danielle Collins 6-0, 6-2 to advance.

“I always liking playing on center stage, I guess it’s where I feel most comfortable,” Puig said after the match. “I’m always happy to play in Indian Wells, it’s one of my favorite tournaments.”

Puig played nearly flawless tennis to push through on Wednesday, winning 75 percent of her first serve points and converting on six of eight break points against the two-time NCAA singles champion and former University of Virginia standout.

Up next for Puig is a second-round clash with third-seed Karolina Pliskova, who is sitting at the top of the draw following the withdrawal of Serena Williams. Pliskova is 3-0 all-time against Puig.

Former top 10-ranked player Belinda Bencic moved past Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-1 to book a second-round showdown with Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. The Swiss converted on five of seven break point chances to cruise past Pironkova and notch her first tour victory of 2017.

“I started really nervous and didn’t have a great start,” said Bencic. “But then I started to pick up and remember what I had to do. That went well; I tried to stay focused throughout the match.”

Heather Watson secured an all-British match in the second round with Johanna Konta as she came back from a set down to upend American Nicole Gibbs 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Gibbs’ compatriot CiCi Bellis also coughed up a one-set lead on Wednesday, as Kirsten Flipkens fought back to beat the youngest player in the top 100 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Flipkens moves on to face Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.

Two Americans did advance on the tournament’s opening day. Kayla Day knocked off Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-3, 6-4 and will play Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni next.

Louisa Chirico, a New York-native, defeated former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-3. She will play Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.