It’s been a tough road back for the world number 223, Peng Shuai who was sidelined from the tour for nine months after Roland Garros last year to have surgery on her back. The Chinese player has been competing well of late but not getting the wins; just this summer she pushed the likes of Zhang Shuai, Heather Watson and Varvara Lepchenko all to three sets, and earnt first set tiebreaks against Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens during the grass court season.
On Monday, Peng enjoyed a top ten win over Venus Williams in the first round of Beijing, 7-5 6-1, which was her best result in over two years (since the US Open where she reached the semi-finals). Peng saved three set points in the first set as Venus failed to serve out the set at 5-4. Peng went onto win 10 of the last 11 games!
Angelique Kerber won her 56th match of the season with a 6-4 6-4 first round victory over Katerina Siniakova.
For the second straight week, Karolina Pliskova defeated Lucie Safarova. This time round it went the distance with Lucie edging a tense first tiebreak where she saved a set point. Pliskova though kept up her dominance over her fellow Czech compatriot, coming through 6-7(7) 6-1 6-4. The draw gods have been especially rough on Lucie these past few months and she just can’t seem to catch a break right now.
Timea Bacsinszky won just her third match on tour since July with a gritty come-from-behind, 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory against recent Seoul champion, Lara Arruabarrena. Bacsinszky recovered from 4-6 2-4 down to win 10 of the last 11 games. Bacsinszky was forced to pull out of her singles match in Wuhan with a viral illness.
In other first round results…
Elina Svitolina was the first winner of the day with a routine 6-2 6-2 victory over Tatjana Maria.
Daria Kasatkina maintained her complete dominance over Louisa Chirico, winning 6-2 6-1. Kasatkina now has four wins over Chirico in the last year with the scorelines of 6-2 6-4, 6-0 6-4, 6-1 6-1 and 6-2 6-1.
Daria Gavrilova won her first singles match since Cincinnati, defeating Christina McHale, 6-4 6-4.
Caroline Garcia had a noteworthy win over Julia Goerges, coming from a set down and serving out the match at the first time of asking to win, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Garcia has now won her last three three set matches and all from a set down. At least a few encouraging signs for the Frenchwoman.
And in the longest match of the day at two hours and 55 minutes, Barbora Strycova defeated Laura Siegemund, 5-7 7-5 7-5… as the scoreline would imply, it was a rollercoaster match!
Now onto second round action… A nervous Garbiñe Muguruza twice failed to serve out her match against Yulia Putintseva but got it done in the tiebreak, winning 6-2 7-6(5) and securing back-to-back wins for the first time since Cincy. It’s not been at all convincing but once again, a win is a win.
Madison Keys saved two set points in the first set en route to beating Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5 6-4. I must say the first set was an absolute shocker! Keys wasted a 4-1 lead with Mladenovic reeling off four straight games. The Frenchwoman couldn’t serve it out (not a surprise on what happened in her match against Jelena Jankovic yesterday) and Keys came back to win the set and then the match. There’s been a lot of messy performances of late from the American but i’m super impressed that she is getting through a lot of these matches with the win.
Yaroslava Shvedova kept up her excellent form of late with a straight sets triumph over Belinda Bencic, 6-4 7-6(4). Bencic mounted a big comeback in the second set, battling back from a double break down and even going up 4-0 in the second set tiebreak. Shvedova’s now beaten Roberta Vinci, Carla Suárez Navarro and Bencic in just the last week… impressive!
And finally, Agnieszka Radwanska beat Ekaterina Makarova for the second time in a week, advancing to the third round with a 6-3 6-4 win. She *could* get Caroline Wozniacki in the third round which would see the pair play each other for the third consecutive week. The Dane will first have to get past Roberta Vinci on Tuesday which won’t be an easy one. No previews for tomorrow (i’ll put some thoughts up on the matches in the usual place) but i’m hoping to have a lot of content up for Wednesday!