WTA Beijing: Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens win


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WTA Beijing: Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens win

Following that back injury in Wuhan, the 6th seed Simona Halep is back on the winning path, defeating Rebecca Peterson 6-1, 6-1 in 71 minutes for a strong start in Beijing. The Romanian fended off all five break chances to keep serve intact, taking 60% of the return points and scoring five breaks from nine opportunities to control the scoreboard all the time.

Simona grabbed breaks in games one, five and seven for a 6-1 in the opener, surviving two challenging service games in set number two and bringing the victory home with two breaks of serve. Yulia Putintseva needed 69 minutes to dismiss a qualifier Anna Blnkova 6-0, 6-1, facing only one break point and stealing 63% of the return points to grab five breaks and race towards the finish line and the place in the second round.

The 13th seed Sloane Stephens took down a qualifier Magda Linette 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 37 minutes, prevailing in a marathon opening set and overcoming an early setback in the second to move over the top. Linette came back from 5-3 down in the first set to level the score, only to drop games 11 and 12 to hand the set to the American.

In the second, Sloane grabbed six of the last seven game to seal the deal and advance into the second round. Kristina Mladenovic toppled Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-2 in 70 minutes, getting broken twice but with the upper hand on the return that delivered six breaks from 12 chances to her, rattling off nine straight games to break the rival's resistance and march towards the finish line.

The 3rd seed Elina Svitolina prevailed against Anastasija Sevastova 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and four minutes, losing serve three times but controlling the pace in sets two and three to cross the finish line first. The opening set lasted for an hour and went down to the wire, with Sevastova leading 5-3 and wasting two set points in the next game to keep Elina in contention.

The Ukrainian broke back, fended off another set point at 5-6 to reach the tie break that Anastasija won 7-4. The Ukrainian took charge in set number two, earning breaks in games four and six and playing better and better as the encounter progressed and moving over the top with a couple of breaks in the deciding set.