NEW YORK, NOV. 19 -- Top-seeded Steffi Graf breezed past Zina Garrison, 6-0, 6-3, in the opening round of the Virginia Slims tennis championships tonight.

Graf won the first eight games of the match before Garrison broke her serve in the third game of the second set. But Graf broke back to take a 4-2 lead and closed out the 47-minute match 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."

The 18-year-old West German had split two previous three-set matches with Garrison, but the American never mounted a serious challenge tonight, losing 59 of the 92 points.

"She's so quick," Garrison, a 24-year-old Houston resident, said of Graf. "I'm used to hitting shots that would be winners against any other player, but she gets to them."

In other first-round matches tonight, fourth-seeded Pam Shriver beat Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and No. 7 Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia defeated Lori McNeil, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Graf, who has won 72 of 74 matches this year, said she was surprised at her performance because, she said, she has been playing poorly in practice.

Sukova, who will meet Graf in the quarterfinals of the 16-player tournament Thursday night, came back from a slow start to beat McNeil. It was Sukova's eighth straight victory over the 23-year-old American, who upset Chris Evert in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

"Lori was playing so well at the start," Sukova said. "I said to myself, 'Just keep trying and hang in there. She can't play this well all the time and I can't play this bad.' "

Sukova has a history of playing well in major tournaments such as these $1 million championships that feature the top 16 singles players and top eight doubles teams in the world.