World no. 39 Saisai Zheng has found form in front of the home fans in Beijing, defeating the 13th seed Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 16 minutes for the place in the last 16. The Chinese repelled seven out of eight break chances to keep the pressure on the other side of the net, taking 55% of the return points and securing five breaks from six chances to seal the deal in no time at all.
Stephens pulled the break back in the sixth game of the opening set to get back to the positive side of the scoreboard but that didn't last for long, allowing Saisai to take 12 of the last 16 points and close the opener with a break in game nine.
The American couldn't recover in set number two, suffering breaks in games four and six before Zheng moved over the top with another comfortable hold, delivering another tough loss for Stephens who is nowhere near her best tennis at the moment.
The 7th seed Petra Kvitova toppled Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes for the ninth victory in ten encounters against the French player. The Czech kept everything under control in har games, suffering one break and creating 11 break opportunities, converting three to stay in front all the time.
Petra was rock-solid in the opener, sailing through her games and earning a break in the first game that sent her in front, wasting two set points on the return at 5-3 and closing the set with a hold at 15 a few minutes later.
Never finding her rhythm, Kristina found herself 4-1 down in set number two after losing serve in games one and five, managing to pull one break back before Kvitova moved over the top with comfortable holds in games eight and ten for the spot in the third round.
The 15th seed Sofia Kenin took down Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes, dropping just 13 points in eight service games and erasing two breaks with a dominant performance on the return, seizing six out of 11 break opportunities to master the rival and grab another impressive win in her breakthrough season.
Polona Hercog needed 76 minutes to topple the struggling German Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-2, standing strong in her games and securing three breaks to move into the next round. Wuhan champion Aryna Sabalenka couldn't stay on the course for another title, losing to Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-6 in just under two hours.
The Russian stayed focused throughout the match, taking the pivotal points for a much-needed victory after a mediocre season so far. The defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Christina McHale 6-4, 6-0, taking the last seven games to march over the finish line and stay on the title course.