Shuai Zhang, the top seed and the most expected local star in Nanchang, moved to the second round after a 7-6(0) 6-3 win over Sabine Lisicki. The Cinese, who won their only meeting in straight-sets at last year's US Open first round, will meet for the first time Margarita Gasparyan in her bid for her fourth quarter-final of the season.
Zhang, more consistent on big points, improved to 6-3 her tiebreak record in 2018 and cruised through her 15th WTA main draw win of the season, while the German suffered her fifth straight defeat. The top-ranked Chinese player accepted a wild card aiming to celebrate her third WTA singles title, after her successes in Guangzhou in 2013 and 2017.
And she looked definitelyt more consistent than the 2013 Wimbledon runner-up who drilled 38 winners to Zhang's 10, but also 50 unforced errors to 16. Saisai Zheng, the No.6 seed, clinched six breaks from six looks to beat 6-3 6-0 Miyu Kato avenging her defeat in the only previous meeting in Wuhan four years ago.
Zheng won 77% of first serve points and 73% of second serve return points to seal a berth into the second round against India No.2 Karman Thandi, who trains at Mouratoglou academy. She learned to belief in herself and her shots by her mentor Mahesh Bhupathi to win her maiden ITF title in Hong Kong earlier this year.
"I'm just going for my shots a lot more now," she said to ESPN then. "The areas I have improved the most have been in my second serve and ground serves". Managing to stay focused and mentally strong in crucial points, coached by Bastien Fazincani, she relied on powerful forehands and solid groundstrokes to survive tough defeats in the first six months of the season.
"What I've learned from playing top 100 players is that it isn't just about playing a match with intensity, you have to play each point the same way," she said to ESPN. Tereza Martincová made a winning debut in Nanchang.
Sje completed a 6-3 6-4 win over Yuxuan Zhang. To clinch her first WTA quarter-final since Gstaad last year, the Czech will meet another Chinese opponent, Lin Zhu, who beat her in 2016 in the qualifying rounds at Wimbledon as she retired down 4-0 in the first set.
Fangzhou Liu extended her six-match winning streak as she defeated Japanese qualifier Hiroko Kuwata, who finished the match with five unconverted games, 7-5 6-3, after saving three set points in the opening set. Liu extended to 4-1 her lead in the head to heads.
The Chinese, who made her WTA tour debut at the 2014 Shenzhen Open, having been awarded a wildcard into the main draw, advanced to the final of the tournament's first edition, in 2014, when the Jiangxi International Women's Tennis Open belonged to the WTA 125K series, where she lost in three sets to Peng.
Liu will face her countrywoman Xinyun Han, who leads 4-2 in the head to head series. In their first meeting since 2016 Shenzhen, they will both bid to improve their 8-2 record in the last 10 matches against Chinese opponents.
Vitalia Diatchenko, a few weeks after outlasting Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon, was left sobbing on the sidelines as she had to retire down a break in the decider to world number 311 Peangtarn Plipuech in the opening round.
The 1992-born Thai player, who reached a career-high WTA singles ranking of No. 348 in 2013 when she claimed her biggest title to date at the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships, will meet for the first time fellow qualifier En Shuo Liang who owns a single WTA main draw win so far.