Shanghai - Former world number one Garbine Muguruza recovered from a slow start to avoid an upset at the Shenzhen Open on Monday.
The 26-year-old Spaniard beat Chinese youngster Wang Xinyu 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 and plays the American Shelby Rogers in round two in southern China.
The Shenzhen Open serves as build-up for the Australian Open at the end of the month.
It was the two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza's first match since an early exit at the China Open in late September.
"I think it was my first match in a long time and you cannot expect to play your best tennis," said Muguruza, now 35th in the world.
Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka made a fast start to her season, blowing away Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan in just 71 minutes.
The world number 11 from Belarus eased to a 6-3, 6-0 victory as she looks to seal a place inside the top 10 for the Australian Open.
The 21-year-old will play Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic next.
"It was a tough match and really tough to start," said the powerful Sabalenka, who won three titles last year in China, including in Shenzhen.
"She's a great player and it was tough to play against her. She has strong strokes. I tried my best and I'm happy I finished with the win."
Gasparyan, 25, reached a career-high 41 in the world in February 2016 but has been beset by injuries.