ZHUHAI, China - No.2 CoCo Vandeweghe kicked off the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in comeback fashion on Tuesday, coming from a set down to see off wildcard Peng Shuai in the first match in the Bougainvillea Group.
"Today was a survive-and-conquer kind of day. I really was playing not so well, very below average for the standard that I'm used to playing and competing at," Vandeweghe said.
"I think it was just a matter of focusing on the next point at hand and just moving forward. It's a tough part of the year and it's a tough event. I just kept competing and fighting."
The American had won just one match in her previous four tournaments in China, while Peng arrived in Zhuhai this week having won 23 matches in Asia this season - including her second career WTA title in her home country at the Jiangxi International Women's Tennis Open.
Vandeweghe rounded into form over the course of the one hour, 55-minute encounter, the first-ever between the two players.
After dropping serve twice in the opening set, the American served five of her six aces over the course of the next two sers, and broke Peng four times. In the decisive third set, the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist never faced a break point, dropping only five points in total behind her serve.
It seemed as though Vandeweghe's woes would continue as the match began, as Peng sprinted out to a 3-0 lead with the loss of just three points.
The No.2 seed got herself back on serve thanks to a lengthy eighth game of the set, in which she finally broke on her fourth chance, but Peng responded by winning the last two games to pocket a one-set advantage.
The second set began in contrasting fashion to the first, as it was Vandeweghe began to find her rande to open up a 3-0 lead, which eventually blossomed to 5-1 behind a second break of serve.
Peng made a late push after saving a set point in the seventh game to break and hold at love, even getting herself two chances to get the set back on serve in the American's next service game.
However, the No.2 seed steadied the ship, battling through the four-deuce game to send the match into a decider, in which she won six of the last seven games.
"She's a really good player, and today when it started, I didn't think too much about winning or losing," Peng said in defeat. "I just had to play and fight on the court and try my best. I was really excited to get a wildcard to play in this tournament.
"I think it's really a good experience for me, because first time for in Zhuhai, and hopefully I have more focus with my second match."
The third player in the Bougainvillea Group is No.6 seed Elena Vesnina, winner of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, who had a day off on Tuesday.
"She's a tough player. She hits very aggressively, returns well," the American assessed. "Hopefully I can play a little bit better than I did today. If I do and compete hard for every point, then I hope it's a 'W' next to my name in that match."