Shanghai - Belgium's world number 17 Elise Mertens began her year with a bang on Sunday, defeating Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets at the Shenzhen Open.
With the Australian Open just two weeks away, the third seed needed only 92 minutes to stroll into the next round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Mertens started sluggishly, losing her serve in the first game, before wrapping up a comfortable win.
"The first match is always a little tricky but I think I managed it pretty well and mentally stayed calm," said the 24-year-old, who is chasing a sixth career title.
Fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova from Russia also secured a first-round win as she defeated the 2017 Shenzhen Open champion Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4.
Reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, ranked 11th in the world, begins her defence against Margarita Gasparyan of Russia on Monday.