Simona Halep was forced to retire after losing the first set 6-1 un her debut match in Beijing against Ons Jabeur. The No.1 bowed out with a continuing back injury, which she sustained a week ago in Wuhan. "There is pain, I couldn’t move properly.
I’m very worried now”, said Halep, expected to go back home to do a MRI. Treatments done since last week helped to heal the back muscle, Halep explained, "but now I started to feel yesterday in the bones. I feel sad that I couldn't finish." .
"I was motivated. I was ready to push myself to finish this year stronger than last year," she said in Wuhan. Making her main draw debut at Beijing, Jabeur equaled her best result across four Premier Mandatory tournaments, the second round showing at 2015 Indian Wells (as qualifier, d.
Kanepi, l. Wozniacki). Over the weekend, the only African woman in the draw advanced through qualifying for the second time this season (also US Open), upsetting No.51 Puig and No.77 Maria, and celebrated the first victory over a reigning world No.1, the second over a Top 20 opponent as she beat No.7 Cibulkova during 2017’s third round run at Roland Garros.
Caroline Garcia, bidding to defend a title for the first time in her career, won 8 of 11 close games and claimed 6 breaks from 7 looks in her 76(10) 67(4) 63 win over Chinese wildcard Yafan Wang. The Frenchwoman saved two set points in the first set and won just the fifth tiebreak this season out of 13 played at WTA level.
Defending champion Garcia, making her fifth main draw appearance in Beijing, saved match point against Siniakova in the quarterfinals last year before upsetting soon-to-be crowned No.1 Halep in final and becoming the first unseeded champion since the tournament was granted Premier Mandatory status in 2009.
She had to dig deep to extend to 10-7 her career record against Chinese players. Seeded at 22 consecutive tournaments from last year's title run at No.4, Garcia will meet Polona Hercog bidding to extend her 2-0 record in their head to head.
No.3 seed Angelique Kerber made an emphatic start to her campaign as she dismissed Kristina Mladenovic 62 62 building an unassailable 4-1 lead in each set. The Wimbledon champion served five double faults but never lost her serve and maintained her aggressive style hitting 17 winners to 16 unforced errors.
Making her eighth main draw appearance at China Open (ninth overall), where she is a three-time quarterfinalist in 2012 (l. Sharapova), 2013, (l. A.Radwanska) and 2015 (l. A.Radwanska), Kerber aims to reach the last 8 for the first time since winning Wimbledon.
One of four Germans in the draw (also Goerges, Petkovic and Siegemund), she could become the third German to reach the China Open final, after Groenefeld in 2005 (l. Kirilenko) and Petkovic in 2011(l. A.Radwanska). More to follow