SHENZHEN, December 30, 2018
It was a dream beginning to a new season for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as the No.8 seed got off to a sizzling start in her debut in at the Shenzhen Open. The Russian needed just 53 minutes to defeat Ana Bogdan 6-0, 6-1 and record her first win of the 2019 season.
“I couldn’t be more happy with how I started this season,” the 27-year-old said after the match. “It’s always tough to start the season after a long break when we haven’t played matches for a long time. Even though it was a short match, it was not an easy match and there were a lot of good points. I’m quite satisfied but of course there’s still a lot to work on to keep progressing.”
Meanwhile, in the day’s final Centre Court match, Chinese No.6 seed Zheng Saisai could not sustain her fight back against an in-form Pauline Parmentier.
The Frenchwoman, who picked up two titles last season at Istanbul and Quebec City, completed a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over her world No.39 opponent in two hours and seven minutes to start the new season on a winning note.
It was a clean sweep of victories for Russians in first round main draw action today, as wild card Vera Zvonareva notched a 6-3, 6-3 win over Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum and Evgeniya Rodina rallied from a set down to defeat Kazakh Zarina Diyas 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7).
World No.70 Wang Yafan completed her second victory in five months over Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, winning 6-1, 6-0 in just under an hour to move into the second round. The 24-year-old Chinese had also prevailed in three sets at the US Open first round in August.
Romania’s Sorana Cirstea also moved into the second round with a strong 6-3, 6-3 over Poland’s Magda Linette in one hour and 26 minutes.
The finals of the singles qualifying rounds concluded today, with Romania’s Monica Niculescu, Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic, Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova and China’s Xun Fang Ying moving into the main draw.
In doubles action, top seeds Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Belarusian partner Lidziya Marozava took 64 minutes to defeat Chinese wild cards Chen Jiahui and Wang Dan Ni 6-2, 6-4 and move into the quarterfinals.
The Romanian-Georgian pairing of Irina Bara and Oksana Kalashnikova also notched a first round victory today, defeating Danka Kovinic of Montenegro and Yana Sizikova of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in 63 minutes.
SINGLES TOP THREE SEEDS AND SHARAPOVA IN FIRST ROUND ACTION TOMORROW
The Shenzhen Open 2019 moves into the thick of the main draw action on New Year’s Eve with eight singles and two doubles first round matches set to be contested over three courts.
The match between third seeded local fan favourite Wang Qiang and two-time Shenzhen Open losing finalist Alison Riske of the USA will kick things off on Centre Court at 11am. The in-form Wang, at a career high of No.20, will be out for revenge against the player that knocked her out of the first round here in Shenzhen last year.
Second seed Caroline Garcia, whose last three singles titles have come on Chinese soil (Tianjin ’18, Wuhan ’17 and Beijing ’17), will make her Shenzhen Open debut against Serbian qualifier Jorovic in tomorrow’s second Centre Court clash.
Next up will be one of the most anticipated matches of the first round, as fifth seed former world No.1 Maria Sharapova faces off against former world No.9 Timea Bacsinszky.
Both players are seeking a return to form after injury struggles in the past two years, and while the Russian has a 2-1 head-to-head lead against her Swiss opponent, Sharapova has never beaten Bacsinszky on hard court.
Top seed Aryna Sabalenka, one of the most exciting young names in women’s tennis, will commence her 2019 season against German Tatjana Maria in tomorrow’s closing match on Centre Court. The 20-year-old, who picked up her first two career WTA titles last season at New Haven and Wuhan, has already defeated her upcoming opponent once this year in the first round of the Fed Cup.
Also in action tomorrow is seventh seed Zhang Shuai, who faces Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in what will be their first meeting since 2015, where Jabeur prevailed on the hard courts of Sydney (Qualifying 2R).
Teenage rising star and singles wild card Wang Xinyu, who picked up two junior Grand Slam doubles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, has a gilt-edged opportunity to make her first appearance in the second round of a Tour level tournament, as she faces off against fellow Chinese qualifier Xun Fang Yin in her first round match tomorrow.
In the doubles draw, the second seeded Chinese pairing of Peng Shuai and Yang Zhaoxuan are set to commence their campaign against the Spanish-Russian tandem of Georgina Garcia Perez and Veronika Kudermetova, while singles No.4 seed Jelena Ostapenko will kick off her doubles campaign together with partner Sorana Cirstea, taking on the Chinese-Czech pairing of Duan Ying-Ying and Renata Voracova.
There will be free admission to Court 1 and 2 throughout the week.