ZHUHAI, China - Julia Goerges held off a late push from Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 7-6(5) to open her Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai campaign with a win in the Azalea Group.
In a tale of two contrasting sets, the German faced just one break point in the entire match - and did not lose her serve on that as she came through in one hour and 39 minutes.
The VTB Kremlin Cup champion has lost just one set in her past six matches, but was forced to play some of her best tennis late in the second set.
The German dug out of a 0-30 on serve at 4-4, after seeing three break points go by in the eighth game, and rebounded in the tiebreak after Rybarikova saved a match point on serve at 5-6.
"I think I was a bit more aggressive in the end. I really went for my shots, especially at 5-All on the second-serve return, and then the next point, as well, I just tried to dictate the game," Goerges said.
"On one match point when it was 6-5, she was serving, I felt I was a bit too passive so I just wanted to take the opportunity to really go for it and play my game, even though maybe I make a mistake or something.
"I didn't want to [put] it in her hands because she was dictating that rally, and I thought I had an opportunity on second serve to really go for my shots, which I didn't do...I think in the end it worked out very well."
Goerges sprinted through the opening set by winning the last five games, dictating the course of play from the back of the court, and responding to the variety which Rybarikova threw at her.
The Slovak, currently sitting at a career-high ranking of World No.22, was unable to make much inroads on Goerges' serve - as the German landed 70% of her first deliveries and saved the lone break point she faced in the sixth game on the set.
"I think [the court speed] does suit my game, especially because it has a little bounce, as well. It takes really the serve and my spin," Goerges said.
"You get a lot of control with it. It does suit my game, because I need a little bit of control once I speed up the ball. I think overall it was a pretty, pretty good match from my side today."
Goerges' victory was her 45th match win of 2017, which ties her with Simona Halep for sixth on the WTA this season. The German's run to her first career title in six years in Moscow saw her vault into qualification position in Zhuhai, where she sits in the Azalea Group as the No.7 seed.
"I actually had booked my vacations already, which I had to cancel," she said. "I thought after Beijing, 'Okay, my chances are not very high [to qualify]...I just said, 'I'm only playing Moscow,' but I knew I had to win the title to get a chance to qualify for here. I said, 'Okay, I book it. If I win it, I need to think about it and organize a lot of things.'
"I was just very glad that I could be able to play this tennis in Moscow, and give me the opportunity to be here. I just enjoy every moment here because it's a bonus. I appreciate being here. It's a lovely event, and I think that's what you play for at the end of the year, either Singapore or you play for here.
"To be able to compete here and just leave everything, what you have left in your tank, it's a bonus for me. I'm just very happy about that."