In her first match as a No. 1 player, Angelique Kerber had to come from a set down to earn victory. Kerber dropped the first then rallied to defeat France’s Kristina Mladenkovic 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round at Wuhan.
“Kiki was playing very well today, especially in the first set. I was trying to come back in the second,” Kerber said. “The first match is always tough. But I’m happy to be back in China and to have won my first match here.
“I was trying to play more aggressive, more my tennis, moving a little bit better.”
Kerber will meet fellow 2-time Slam champion Petra Kvitova. The Czech destroyed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1.
“It’s always a tough battle against Petra. I’m looking forward,” Kerber said of Kvitova. “I mean, here we have a new tournament, a new day tomorrow. I have to play better than today, for sure. I will try my best to go out there to win the match. But I will have to play my one of my best tennis tomorrow against her.”
Jelena Jankovic ousted French Open champion and No. 2 seed Garbine Muguruza.
Madison Keys also was a winner as were defending champion Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska.
Venus will now meet Kuznetsova on Wednesday. The 36-year-old who won the title last year rolled over Yulia Putinseva 6-3, 6-2.
“I haven’t played in three weeks. When you have a lot of experience, the first match, you never feel like guns ready to go as you might feel in the finals,” Williams said. “At least you know what you’re doing well, what you need to improve. You’re ready to do it.
Radwanska gets a rematch with the streaking Wozniacki.
“We always play good matches, so I’m not expecting it to be easy. We just played three hours in Tokyo so we could have another battle in front of us,” Radwanska said.
Wozniacki has won her last seven matches and she reached the US Open semifinals earlier this month.
“It’s been clicking for me, probably for about a month and a half now,” Wozniacki said. “Even before the US Open, for about a month, I felt really good during practice. It just took me a little bit to get that out when I was playing matches.”
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