The first two matches of the day on the National Tennis Stadium saw Madison Keys and Roberta Vinci both start with a brilliant bagel against Chinese opposition, but need three sets to prevail. Keys beat Duan Ying-Ying, 6-0 4-6 6-1, while Vinci came from a break down in the final set to edge past Zheng Saisai, 6-0 3-6 6-3.
Zheng has some excellent net skills but backed off from her aggressive gameplan that won her the second set and finished in rather error-strewn fashion, looping balls wide and long. Zheng’s currently on a five match losing streak and has lost her last 11 three set matches.
Here’s an interview with Madison Keys where she talks about why she likes Beijing.
Keys will play Kristina Mladenovic in the second round after the Frenchwoman beat Jelena Jankovic in the most eventful match of the day, 6-3 5-7 7-6(4). Mladenovic had all manner of lapses in concentrations and confidence but eventually her quality came through in a nervy and entertaining affair.
Mladenovic had led 6-3 3-0* 30-30* before inexplicably imploding with Jankovic reeling off five games in a row; the Serb served out the second set at the second time of asking. Mladenovic failed to convert on a 5-2 lead in the third set but just about kept her composure together with her greater power and intent coming to the fore in the third set tiebreak.
Keys leads Mladenovic, 2-1 in their head-to-head with two of their three matches going the distance. Keys edged a nailbiter at the Olympics, 7-5 6-7(7) 7-6(5) where she recovered from 3-5 down in the third set to win. Mladenovic’s mental game leaves a lot to be desired and nerves seem to get the better of her on many occasions. I really hope she works it all out because her game is fabulous. I’d take Keys in another tight match.
The first upset of the day saw Yaroslava Shvedova keep up her recent good form with a surprisingly routine 6-1 6-3 win over Carla Suárez Navarro. This was a big tournament for Carla in her hunt to qualify for Singapore. I wonder if this was on her mind…
The only other seeded upset was the number 15 seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who lost in straight sets to Alison Riske. Pavs had three set points up *5-3 *40-0 but couldn’t take them as Riske came back to win the first set on the tiebreak and then rolled through the second set to win, 7-6(4) 6-1. It was Riske’s third victory over Pavlyuchenkova in four matches.
Agnieszka Radwanska had a comfortable win over Wang Qiang, 6-2 6-2. Wang hasn’t won more than three games in any of the six sets they’ve played but she did manage to hit the shot of the match.
Konta overturned a recent loss to Anastasija Sevastova at the US Open with a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory in the first round of Beijing. Konta dropped just two points on her serve all match and wrapped it up in 56 (!) minutes. Konta next plays Timea Babos who had an equally rousing victory in the first round, beating Danka Kovinic, 6-1 6-2.
In the night session, Zhang Shuai defeated Sam Stosur, 6-1 6-2 in just an hour. Zhang played very well, particularly in the first set, but Stosur had another very disappointing performance as she failed to find the rhythm on her forehand. Stosur has lost five of her last six matches on tour while Zhang moves forward to a second round match against Alison Riske.
In the final match of the day, Caroline Wozniacki beat CoCo Vandeweghe in three sets, 6-2 1-6 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes. Vandeweghe was typically error-strewn in the opening set but did mount a comeback in the second set. Wozniacki failed to serve out the match at *5-2 but fended off the late charge from the American to reach the second round where she will face Roberta Vinci.
In other matches…
Misaki Doi won her first completed match since Cincinnati, beating the qualifier Nicole Gibbs, 7-5 6-2.
Wang Yafan won just her second match at WTA level in 2016, easing past Madison Brengle, 6-2 6-2.
And finally, thanks to Tatiana for some wonderful photos from Beijing.