Lucie Safarova returned to winning ways after edging past Varvara Lepchenko on the opening day of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.
WTA Staff

WUHAN, China - Lucie Safarova returned to winning ways after edging past Varvara Lepchenko on the opening day of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open.

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A difficult summer for Safarova brought just two wins in four outings, and her 7-5, 6-3 triumph will provide some much-needed confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.

In a closely contested opening set, the Czech whipped a brilliant forehand return to claim the decisive break in the penultimate game then held onto the momentum to take her place in the second round, where she will face compatriot and No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova.

Elsewhere, Belinda Bencic's injury-riddled season continued when she was forced to retire following a nasty tumble against No.9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Swiss teenager began the year in fine fashion, reaching the second week of the Australian Open and becoming the youngest player in nearly seven years to break into the Top 10.

Since then, though, it has been one injury mishap after another; a back injury stalled her progress in spring - forcing her to miss the French Open - before a wrist problem forced her to retire from Wimbledon then pull out of the Olympics.

"I felt it in exactly the same place where I was injured - I think it's the coccyx bone. I'm going to get some tests to figure out more, and we will see," Bencic said.

Kuznetsova was leading 6-3, 3-4 when the match came to its premature conclusion. In the next round she will meet Heather Watson or Madison Brengle.

And Bencic was not the only big name to suffer misfortune. No.12 seed and 2014 quarterfinalist Timea Bacsinszky retired with a viral illness when trailing 6-3, 4-3 against Louisa Chirico.

Also advancing were No.13 seed Roberta Vinci, who defeated Olympic champion Monica Puig, 6-3, 6-3, and Ekaterina Makarova, a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 winner over wildcard Sabine Lisicki.