The International tournament in Shenzhen stands out as the richest WTA event in that category with total prize money of $750,000, led by Arina Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia. Shenzhen is the first tournament of the new season that hosted main draw matches on Sunday, with six players earning the first triumphs in 2019 and four who secured the place in the main draw.
The 8th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made the perfect start of the new season, toppling Ana Bogdan 6-0, 6-1 in just 53 minutes for the place in the second round. The Russian served at 73% and she saved two out of three break points to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
Bogdan was nowhere near those numbers in her games, losing almost 70% of the points in her games and getting broken six times from eight opportunities she gave to Pavlyuchenkova to hit the exit door in no time at all. Anastasia rattled off the opening eight games, serving well and controlling the pace from the baseline before Ana ended her drought in the third game of the second set when she finally scored one break to get her name on the scoreboard.
That was all she could do, though, losing the remaining four games to send Pavlyuchenkova into the last 16. The 34-year-old Vera Zvonareva has received a wild card for the main draw and she opened the season in a winning way, ousting Luksika Kumkhum 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 29 minutes. A former world no.
2 made more damage with her first serve and she saved two out of four break points, enough to play freely on the return and attack rival's serve with succession, stealing half of the points on the return to create 13 break points and convert five for a commanding win.
They traded breaks in games three and four and Kumkhum managed to repel additional four in game five to stay in contention before Vera shifted into a higher gear to take the remaining four games and the set by 6-3. Luksika found the range in the second set, breaking at love in game three to open a 3-1 lead but that wasn't enough to bring the set home, with Zvonareva who dig deep in the rest of the set to overcome the deficit and cross the finish line in straight sets.
The Russian broke back in game six and she clinched another one two games later (Kumkhum had game point both times she lost the serve) before sealing the deal with a hold in game nine to book the place in the second round.
Sorana Cirstea is also among the players who made the winning start after a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Magda Linette in an hour and 26 minutes. The Romanian suffered three breaks but that couldn't make an impact on the scoreline since she won 55% of the return points, creating 13 break opportunities and stealing Linette's serve six times to safely reach the second round.
The Pole made a promising start, scoring a break in game three to move 3-1 in front but Sorana pulled it back easily in game six, getting another one at 4-3 to move ahead (Magda had a few game points) and take the set after saving break points in the next game.
Cirstea forged a 5-2 lead in the second set and she had three match points on own serve in game eight, only to waste them all and suffer a break. Instead of taking advantage of that, Magda gave her serve away a few minutes later again and that marked the end of her journey in Shenzhen this year. Sunday's results:
First round results:
Yafan Wang (CHN) vs Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-1 6-0
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs Saisai Zheng (CHN) 6-2 3-6 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) vs Magda Linette (POL) 6-3 6-3
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) vs Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 3-6 6-3 7-6(7)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Ana Bogdan (ROU) 6-0 6-1
[WC]Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs Luksika Kumkhum (THA) 6-3 6-3
Final qualifying round results:
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) vs Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-1 3-6 7-6(6)
Monica Niculescu (ROU) vs Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-2 6-2
Fang Ying Xun (CHN) vs Lin Zhu (CHN) 6-3 4-6 7-6(2)
Ivana Jorovic (SRB) vs Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-0 5-7 6-0