Defending champion Garbine Muguruza got her China Open campaign off to a shaky start on Saturday, as she overcame Irina-Camelia Begu 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 in Beijing.
The world No. 3, who is seeded second for this tournament, lost the opening set before responding well in the second, taking the match to a decider. After going a break down in the third stanza, Muguruza needed to bring her very best, and she did exactly that, winning three games in succession to take the match.
Meanwhile Yanina Wickmayer set up a Round 2 showdown with fourth seed Simona Halep after coasting past Monica Puig. Sabine Lisicki, who entered as a wild card, also made it through after a confident performance.
Here’s a look at the results from the main draw at the China Open and a closer examination of how the biggest names fared at the National Tennis Centre.
|China Open 2016: Main Draw Results|
|(2) Garbine Muguruza bt. Irina-Camelia Begu||2-6, 6-2, 6-3|
|Yanina Wickmayer bt. Monica Puig||6-2, 6-0|
|Belinda Bencic bt. Annika Beck||6-3, 6-2|
|Yulia Putintseva bt. Jelena Ostapenko||6-1, 3-6, 7-5|
|Ekaterina Makarova bt. Elena Vesnina||6-2, 6-1|
|Alize Cornet bt. Shelby Rogers||4-6, 6-2, 6-2|
|(wc) Sabine Lisicki bt. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni||6-2, 6-2|
As the defending champion, it was anticipated that Muguruza would come out firing in this one. But she was caught cold by Begu, who played some brilliant early tennis.
The Romanian was too savvy for the second seed, grabbing a couple of early breaks and serving well in the opening stanza. A 6-2 opening set win was the least she deserved, with Muguruza unable to find any of her trademark swagger.
Per the WTA Info Twitter feed, there was plenty at stake for the world No. 3, more than just her place in the competition:
Perhaps with that in mind, Muguruza was much improved in the second, using her dynamic striking to wrest back the initiative in the contest. Begu had little response as the Spaniard moved through the gears, and after a 6-2 set, the champion was the favourite for the match.
But Begu, to her great credit, battled well. She was doing superbly to keep rallies alive and forcing an increasingly frustrated Muguruza into errors. An early break gave the underdog a slender advantage, but the second seed didn't allow her to consolidate, bouncing straight back.
That seemed to break the will of Begu, and Muguruza, as all the elite players do, pounced, breaking to go 5-3 in front. From there she served out for the match, eventually securing a spot in Round 2.
Earlier in the day, there were some more standout performances, the most notable of which came from Wickmayer.
Puig has proved to be a dangerous player in the past and showed her big-match pedigree with a gold medal at the summer Olympics. However, the Costa Rican was never given a chance to settle against the German, who only dropped two games on her way to Round 2.
As these numbers show from Tennis TV, the contest was very one-sided, lasting just over an hour:
Lisicki also showed her class on Saturday, coasting past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with just four games dropped.
Since making it to the Wimbledon final in 2013, the 27-year-old has found consistency tough to come by, falling out of the top 100 players in the world earlier this year. But this was a determined performance from Lisicki, and she will be hoping a strong display in Beijing can prompt an overdue return to form.
Also into the next round are Belinda Bencic and Ekaterina Makarova, as they both enjoyed comfortable straight sets wins.
The standout match of Saturday’s play came between Yulia Putintseva and Jelena Ostapenko, with the former winning the deciding set 7-5. Ostapenko let a match point slip by on her serve, too.
In the men’s draw, only qualification matches were played on Saturday, with Kyle Edmund and Adrian Mannarino two of the highest profile players to make it into the main draw.