Kvitova marches into 2nd round
Beijing - Fourth seed Petra Kvitova sent out a message of intent on Saturday, convincingly defeating Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets to progress to the second round of the China Open in Beijing.
The world number five from the Czech Republic was in full control throughout almost all of her first round match at the capital's National Tennis Stadium, powerfully overcoming her opponent, ranked 33 in the WTA standings, 6-2, 6-3.
Kvitova, last year's Wimbledon champion, broke Hantuchova's serve in the fifth game of the first set to take a 3-2 lead and never looked back, winning the set without further reply before quickly racing ahead 3-0 in the second.
A couple of dropped games in quick succession momentarily stemmed Kvitova's momentum but her big-hitting ultimately proved too much for Hantuchova who appeared tired and started to make unforced errors with increasing regularity.
Kvitova credited her win to "some good returns" and an improvement in her service game, something that has disappointed her of late, adding that she was happy to have won in straight sets.
"It's good I didn't spend plenty of time on the court in the night and in the cold. It's better to play only two sets and win," she said after the convincing victory that will have been noticed by the event's other top seeds.
Earlier, former world number one Ana Ivanovic eased into the second round, defeating American Christina McHale in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.
The 24-year-old Serbian played aggressively from the start, hitting big first serves and powerful forehand drives which McHale, ranked 28 in the world, was unable to match.
Ivanovic's returns from McHale's service game were also too good for the 20-year-old, with the French Open champion of four years ago breaking the American in the eighth game of the first set and twice in the second.
"I think that was the best service game I have ever had," said the eleventh seed, who wrapped up victory within an hour, agreeing that it had been a "perfect" start to the tournament.
"The last match I played, in Tokyo, I served terribly. It was probably the worst I served in a very long time, so I was really determined to do better today," she said.
"I really took more time and focused on that because I knew I could serve well and I did it in practice. So I had attention to serve well today, and it worked well and I'm very pleased."
The world number 12 will play American Varvara Lepchenko, who defeated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
Ivanovic admitted she didn't know much about her next opponent but was aware that "she serves big" and has "a powerful game".
"She's been playing much better lately, and she had some really good results," Ivanovic said of Lepchenko. "It's going to be a tough match."
Also in the first round on Saturday Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei, winner of the Guangzhou Open this month, defeated Zheng Saisai of China 6-2, 6-3 while in an all-Chinese clash Zhang Shuai beat Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-2.
Romina Oprandi of Switzerland and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro also progressed to the second round, as did Yaroslava Shvedova from Kazakhstan who was 6-4, 4-1 up when her opponent and 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova retired due to an injury.