BEIJING, China -- An already celebratory week for Caroline Wozniacki just got even better.
One day after officially qualifying for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the No.5 seed won her first-round match at the China Open, defeating home player Wang Qiang, 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-1.
Wozniacki came into the match with a 2-1 head-to-head record against Wang, including a win at the China Open in 2015 -- although her one loss, in 2013, does stand as the only Top 10 win of Wang’s career.
The Danish player briefly struggled but came through with the victory on Sunday in just under two hours.
Despite the second-set lapse, it was a solid performance for Wozniacki, the 2010 China Open champion. She had 29 winners and 29 unforced errors, won 71% of her points on both her first and second serve, and garnered 12 break points, converting five.
The Dane raced through a pristine first set, exhibiting the stellar mix of defensive prowess and increased aggression that has seen her through to seven finals this year, culminating in her first title of 2017, at the Toray Pan Pacific Open two weeks ago.
Wozniacki used her patented backhand down-the-line winners to break Wang in a seven-minute game for a 2-0 lead, and then took the Chinese player's next service game with another backhand winner to claim a 4-0 lead.
Wozniacki finally dropped a point on serve at 4-0, but had no trouble holding through en route to a 6-1 lead. The World No.6 got 87% of her first serves in, and had 13 winners and only five unforced errors in the opening set.
Wang greatly improved in the extremely competitive second set, as her groundstrokes, particularly her forehand, became more penetrating. Nevertheless, Wozniacki claimed the first break of the set at 2-2, and moved onto a 4-3 lead, at which point a straight-sets victory appeared apparent.
But Wang had other ideas, and broke for 4-4 as her wonderful movement frustrated Wozniacki into multiple unforced errors. Wang held for 5-4 and then had a set point for a third straight game, but Wozniacki erased it with a solid serve that Wang returned long.
The players advanced to the tiebreak, and Wang took the early lead for 4-2. Wozniacki leveled at 4-4 after a wonderful passing shot and volley winner, but two unforced errors by the Dane gave Wang a 6-4 lead and two set points.
After a strong backhand by the third-ranked Chinese player forced an error, the match was all square at a set apiece.
Wang had a superb second set, with 18 winners, but the grueling 59-minute set appeared to take its toll on her in the decider. The unforced errors once again started to pile up for the Chinese player, while Wozniacki shored up her game and regained her first-set form.
"It's very exciting for me to play on a big court, in my country," Wang said in defeat. "I think in the second set, I played really good, but in the final set, she was mentally stronger than me. In the first set and third set, I...didn't take advantage of some chances."
Once Wang was broken at love, providing a 3-1 lead to Wozniacki, the wind went out of her sails. A second break gave Wozniacki a chance to serve out the match at 5-1. Another strong backhand gave the fifth seed triple match point, and she only needed one to close out when Wang returned a serve into the net.
In a rematch of the Tokyo final from a fortnight ago, Wozniacki will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. The Russian dominated American Lauren Davis on Saturday, by the score of 6-1, 6-1.