BEIJING, China - The Top 2 players in the world made winning beginnings to their China Open campaigns on Monday, with one of them rolling through in just over an hour and the other battling it out almost two hours to prevail.
World No.1 Victoria Azarenka was the first of the pair to move through, getting broken in the opening game but then reeling off 12 games in a row to beat former World No.11 Alizé Cornet in an hour and six minutes, 61 60.
Azarenka withdrew mid-tournament in Tokyo last week due to dizziness.
"I hadn't really been practicing at all. I knew when I went out there I wouldn't be playing perfectly," Azarenka said. "I was just trying to find my rhythm, feel the atmosphere and go for my shots, and I think I responded pretty well after dropping that game. I bounced back really well. Everything worked for me."
The two players are less than six months apart in age but this was their first meeting - but Azarenka was prepared for the talented Frenchwoman.
"I know she's a good grinder, and she'll make you move and try to hit a lot of shots - and she has two different sides where she hits," Azarenka said. "I felt I was constructing the points well and finding my opportunities to be aggressive and step in. I feel like I executed really well and didn't let her change my game."
"Certainly the scoreline was quite difficult, but I was up in those two sets and let her get back into it," Sharapova said. "I put myself in a position in both sets, going up a break, and it wasn't the best thing to let her back in - but the good thing was I regained my focus and won that match, no matter how well she was playing and coming back. At the end of the day I'm happy I won in two sets."
Meanwhile, No.10 seed Caroline Wozniacki was fighting hard in a two-hour, 46-minute, drama-filled three-setter, missing three match points in the second set - one at 6-5, then another two at 6-4 and 6-5 in the tie-break - but eventually regrouping and getting past Chanelle Scheepers in three, 75 67(6) 62.
"I had a few match points in the second set and would have liked to win them, but I just had to stay calm and keep fighting for every point in the third set," Wozniacki said. "In that last set I guess I maybe had a little bit more energy left and more belief. The most important thing is I won and I'm happy to be through."
Arruabarrena-Vecino beat Chinese No.2 Zheng Jie, 62 64. "I really want to go to the tournament in Sofia, so now I'm going to Osaka and then I need to go to Luxembourg too," Zheng said after the match. "It's my results there that will decide whether I can qualify for Sofia - hopefully I can make it there."