BEIJING, China - Agnieszka Radwanska began her title defense at the China Open with a straight-sets victory over Carina Witthoeft on Sunday, 7-5, 6-3.
Radwanska has historically enjoyed success in the Chinese capital, as she beat Johanna Konta in last year's final, also won the event in 2011 and made the final in 2009.
"When you're defending so many points, it's always a little more pressure," Radwanska said. "There are no easy matches and you're going to have to play your best game from the first round. I'm very happy with a two set win."
The 11th seed overcame a slow start to move 4-2 ahead against the German qualifier and broke again to take the first set in just under an hour.
She continued her dominance at the start of the second set, breaking in Witthoeft's first service game to move 2-0 ahead.
Nonetheless, the German, facing Radwanska for the first time, found some resolve and recovered to win a break point, and leveled the set at 3-3 with a love hold.
Witthoeft believed she had broken Radwanska earlier in the fifth game of the set, only for her winning point to be overturned when her Polish opponent was successful with a Hawk-eye review.
A crucial seventh game proved to be a turning point in the second set, as Radwanska saved three more break points to move 4-3 ahead, before breaking to move to within a game of victory.
She saw out the match to progress in straight sets in just under two hours, and move on to a second-round meeting with home favorite Zhang Shuai, who overcame Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-4.
"She's playing great tennis at the moment. She's a very aggressive player and I'll have to be careful, play deep and be very aggressive myself - not to defend the whole match," the Pole said.
"Of course, the crowd will be loud for a Chinese player here, so I'm just going to go out and enjoy it."