No.1 seed and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko opened her title defence at the KEB Hana Bank Korea with a 6-3 6-3 win over Lara Arruabarrena while No.8 Kirsten Flipkens failed to reach the quarter-finals. The Spaniard, who won the title here in 2016, had taken Ostapenko to three sets in their only previous meeting.
The Latvian completed her 22nd win of the season in 39 matches hitting 32 winners, four of them helped her to clinch the first break of the match at 3-1. Arruabarrena tried to use variety and mix her strategies from the baseline.
She managed to reduce to eight her unforced errors tally but she was able to hit no more than three clean winners, to testify that Ostapenko was the one in control. The Latvian had a single lapse of concentration as she gifted Arruabarrena the opening break in the second set, but she easily cruised through six of the final seven games of the match to set up a second-round tie against Ekaterina Alexandrova, who won just two of her last ten hardcourt matches.
They are tied 1-1 in their head to head record. The winner will meet in the quarter-finals the Hiroshima champion and No.6 seed Su-wei Hsieh. The Taiwanese extended her 7-match winning streak as she completed five breaks and won eight of nine close games to dismiss Stefanie Voegele 62 61.
No.2 Kiki Bertens, who reached the quarter-finals in the first of her four main draw appearances here, opened her campaign beating Luksika Kumkhum 76(7) 62. The Dutch saved two set points in the first set, then she dominated the proceedings in the second and sealed the tenth win in her last 12 matches against the Thai who suffered the fourth straight defeat against a Top 20 player this season.
Bertens will meet Dalila Jakupovic for the first time. The winner will meet in the quarter-finals Evgeniya Rodina, after her upset 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory over No.8 Kirsten Flipkens, who suffered the fourth loss in 18 third-setters played so far this season.
Elsewhere, No.3 seed Maria Sakkari easily moved to the quarter-finals. The Greek, who had suffered a first-round loss in her lone previous appearance in Seoul in 2016, collected her 275th overall career win. The Greek sealed 62% of second serve return points in her 62 62 victory over Margarita Gasparyan.
She now awaits Agnieszka Radwanska or Irina-Camelia Begu, facing for the third time with the Pole leading 2-0 in their head to head.