SHENZHEN, China - WTA World No.1 Simona Halep began her quest for a second Shenzhen Open title with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nicole Gibbs.
Halep struck 12 winners to 13 unforced errors, and looked particularly aggressive off the forehand side to dispatch the former Stanford standout in one hour and nine minutes.
"We had a big crowd, which was nice to play in front of," Halep said during her on-court interview.
"It was a good match," she continued after the win. "I started with a victory, which means a lot to me, to have a happy start. I look forward to the next matches and hopefully I can become better and better."
The Romanian won the Shenzhen Open back in 2015 and returned last year, falling to eventual champion Katerina Siniakova while struggling with a knee injury.
"It's always nice to play here in Shenzhen; I won a title here three years ago already. It's my first victory this year as No.1 in the world, so I'm just happy and enjoying the time.
Up next for the top seed is China's Duan Ying-Ying, who knocked out Evgeniya Rodina, 6-2, 7-5. Duan ended her 2017 season with a homwtown victory, taking home the doubles title at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai with partner Han Xinyun.