Elena Baltacha makes winning start in Eastbourne

Elena Baltacha
Baltacha kept up the good form she showed last week in Nottingham

British number one Elena Baltacha kept up her recent good form with a first-round win over Aravane Rezai at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

An early break of serve gave Baltacha the upper hand in the first set and a break in the seventh game allowed her to serve out for the set 6-2.

She then gained the initiative in the second with a break in the third game and went on to take it 6-1.

British number two Heather Watson lost 6-3 6-3 to top seed Vera Zvonereva.

In the men's competition, Britain's James Ward, whose efforts in reaching the Queen's semi-finals lifted him 40 places to 176 in the world rankings, was tied at one set all against Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic [3-6 6-4] when darkness set in.

Baltacha was delighted with her win but said it was "definitely not easy".

"That was definitely not easy at all," said the 27-year-old. "Even though the scoreline was 2 and 1, it was definitely not that easy.

"The first set we were both just hitting it really hard and then on the key points, I played them very well.

"But it was very, very difficult, especially the first set. I think she dropped her level slightly, but I just kept playing really well. I played the whole match very solidly, but it was definitely not easy."

"It just happened so quick, really, but from last week I take so much confidence, and my preparation has been perfect for matches on the grass. The grass plays quite similar here."

Along with Watson's exit, there was also disappointment for British players in the men's competition.

Alex Slabinsky went down 7-5 6-3 to sixth seed Kevin Anderson, and Dan Cox slumped to a 6-1 7-5 defeat against American qualifier Donald Young.