BEIJING, China - Two-time Beijing champion Caroline Wozniacki made a strong start to her China Open title defense, dropping just four games against American qualifier Lauren Davis to move into the second round, 6-1, 6-3.  

Last year in the Chinese capital, Wozniacki capped off the best season of her career with a title in Beijing, adding to an impressive haul that included her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and a title in Eastbourne - returning to the WTA’s World No.1 ranking in the process. 

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She’s cooled off in 2019, however, as the Dane struggled with a left leg injury in her first full season following her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Wozniacki came into Beijing seeking her first deep run at a hardcourt this year, having reached her only final at the green clay of Charleston.

Wozniacki’s dominant performance against Davis was exactly what she needed to kick off the tournament on the right foot. The Dane recorded a streak of eight unanswered games, and fired 16 winners and seven aces. She dominated rallies from the baseline and kept the pressure on Davis, and was rewarded with five breaks of serve from nine opportunities.

Qualifier Davis made a strong start to the match, winning the first game and getting out to early break lead, 1-0 - but that would soon prove to be her only lead of the set as the former World No.1 got going.  

Wozniacki replied emphatically to reel off the next eight games in a row, breezing through the first set and starting off with a 2-0 lead in the second. The American held serve for the first time to halt Wozniacki’s momentum, getting her name on the scoreboard at 2-1. But it wasn’t enough to stem the tide as Wozniacki marched ahead to a double break, extending her lead to 5-1. 

But with her back against the wall, Davis found another level and swung freely to record another service hold. Growing in confidence, Davis took the balls early and piled on the pressure against Wozniacki. She was rewarded with a break back to make it 5-3, and even got out to a 40-0 lead in her next service game. But Wozniacki stayed calm to weather Davis’ late surge, and an unforced error put an end to the match after an hour and 10 minutes on court.

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Up next, Wozniacki will take on another American qualifier as Christina McHale awaits in the second round. McHale took down wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova in a 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 battle yesterday to advance. 

More to follow...