Garbine Muguruza began her campaign at the Tianjin Open with an easy 63 61 win over her compatriot Sara Sorribes Tormo. Former Aussie No.1 Samantha Stosur failed to use her kick serve and gain the most from the hit-or-miss approach as she lost to consistent counterpuncher Nao Hibino.
The Japanese, unbroken in the match despite saving 11 break points, won 6-3 6-3 and extended to six straight matches Stosur's losing streak. She will meet No.1 seed Elina Svitolina who returned to Hong Kong for a second time looking to seal her berth at the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Last year, a right leg injury forced the Ukrainian to withdraw prior to her second-round match. This time she easily beat Priscilla Hon 62 63. After double-faulting to lose serve in the third game of the final set, Christina McHale won the next four games to complete the fifth comeback win of the season as she beat 6-7(2) 6-2 6-1 local wildcard Eudice Chong.
Down 0-2 in the opening set tiebreak, Chong won seven points in a row to maintain her unbeaten run in tiebreaks this season (she's 4-0). A couple of loose service games and an uncharacteristic string of forehand errors however saw McHale break twice to level at one set apiece and maintained the control on the match.
"I played well in the first set. For the second and third sets, I started rushing too much and went for shots that I shouldn't have and that definitely made a difference. Hopefully, I can use this experience and gain confidence for the upcoming tournaments," Chong said.
McHale will meet for the first time in her career Wang Qiang, the new Chinese No.1, who has been in stellar form over the second half of the season, winning 22 of her past 28 matches, picking up titles at Nanchang and Guangzhou and making the semifinals at both Wuhan and Beijing.
Wang Qiang, who is 16-3 since the US Open, had too much game on the night, as she won 6-0 6-2, against Zhang Ling. No. 7 seed Daria Gavrilova, last year’s runner-up and a semifinalist in 2016, was mired in a dogfight against world No.
90 Zarina Diyas before she found a higher gear to come back after losing the first set for the seventh time this season and seal a 3-6 7-5 6-1 victory. In her bid to reach the third quarterfinals this season after the semifinals showings at Sydney (l.
Barty) and at Acapulco (l. eventual champion Tsurenko), she will meet for the first time Monica Niculescu. The Romanian, coming off a 3-match losing streak, was just a game away from defeat against qualifier Ons Jabeur who served for the match at 6-5 in the second set. Niculescu, who completed nine breaks from 12 looks, dug deep to win in a grueling three-setter, 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-4.