BEIJING, China - No.3 seed Elina Svitolina shook off a disappointing US Open defeat in a seamless China Open victory over Chinese wildcard Zhu Lin, winning, 6-3, 6-2, to reach the second round.
"I was very happy to be back and playing well," she said after the match. "It’s my first tournament after the US Open, so it was very exciting. I was excited to play, and I’m happy to have played solid tennis today. I’m looking forward to my next match."
Svitolina indeed last played in Flushing Meadows, where she had a chance to become WTA World No.1 before taking a tough loss to eventual finalist Madison Keys under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Taking the time to train - and presumably heal the nagging foot injury that threatened to derail her season earlier this summer - the 23-year-old Ukrainian played solid tennis to dismiss Zhu in Monday's first night match after one hour and 15 minutes on court.
After saving multiple break points in the third game of the opening set, Svitolina gamely maneuvered her way past a spirited challenge from the Chinese wildcard.
"It’s always tough to play a girl from the same country as the crowd, because the fans will want her to win. But I’m very focused on my game, and I was just trying to be really positive, playing one point at a time. That really helped me."
The No.3 seed struck 19 winners to 20 unforced errors, but was even more impressive on key points, converting three of four break point opportunities and saving all nine faced on her own serve.
With the win, Svitolina books a potentially tricky second round against Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open finalist Ashleigh Barty for the third time this season.
"We’ve met a couple of times. We played Fed Cup and then Wimbledon, and both matches were tough," Svitolina said of the in-form Aussie.
"I know how she plays, very aggressively and she serves well. I’ll know to what to expect, and do my best to be ready for the match."
Barty narrowly lost to Caroline Garcia on Saturday, earning a performance bye into an encounter with Svitolina, who won their most recent match at Wimbledon in two tight sets.