Dubai - Czech talent Karolina Pliskova, 22, gave a further hint of an exciting future to come as she got the better of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Dubai Open on Monday.
The 17th-seeded Czech with the booming serve and the stridently attacking game won 6-2, 6-4 against the former world number 13 from Russia, quickly overcoming the disappointment of losing a break of serve in the second set and closing out the match at the first attempt.
Nominated for the most improved player award after two titles and five finals last year, Pliskova has also enjoyed a fine start to 2015.
"It's a good start but I'm just trying to continue the progress of last year," said the woman from Prague, who smartly avoided any comparisons with her compatriots Martina Navratilova, the winner of 18 Grand Slam titles, and Petra Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion.
"I don't think that helps me," she said. "There are a lot of things I need to improve, such as my movement, even though I now have my highest ranking. But it's really nice to get more attention - that's a big help for me."
Pliskova could go on to a last-16 tie with Ana Ivanovic, the former world number one from Serbia, and if she were to progress further then a meeting with Venus Williams, the defending champion, is a possibility.
Earlier Peng Shuai, the Chinese number one who is saddled with the task of filling the shoes of the legendary Li Na, made skilful progress in dealing with that unwanted role both on and off the court.
The 16th-seeded Peng followed her 7-5, 6-1 first-round win over Elena Vesnina by adroitly avoiding questions about following the only Chinese player to have won a Grand Slam singles title.
"Everybody has a different body, different game," she answered to the comparisons. "Everybody can't do better than Serena (Williams).
When the questioner corrected her by saying "Li Na", Peng retorted: "I know." She then caused laughter by saying: "You mean if one day Venus retires, Serena retires, and everybody say, 'okay, can I do better than Serena?'"
This brought temporary relief for Peng, whose satire about the 19-time Grand Slam champion implied that she cannot reasonably be expected to match the exploits of the former French and Australian Open champion from Hubei province.
It was nevertheless a very competent opening performance by the 29-year-old from Tianjin. After going a break down in the first set against Vesnina, who not long ago was on the verge of the top 20 herself, Peng broke back immediately.
That altered the momentum of the contest completely, launching Peng to a winning sequence of 10 of the next 12 games and eventually to a second-round tie with Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
The winner should play the top seed, Simona Halep.
Results in the first round of the WTA Dubai Open on Monday:
Peng Shuai (CHNx16) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS) 7-5, 6-1
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Wang Qiang (CHN) bt Kurumi Nara (JPN) 5-7, 6-1, 7-5
Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-4, 6-2
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4, 7-5
Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) bt Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) 6-2, 6-7(7-9),6-4
Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 3-1 retired
Karolina Pliskova (CZEx17) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-2, 6-4
Lucie Safarova (CZEx11) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-1, 6-4