SHENZHEN, China - The first main draw victory of the 2020 WTA season belongs to Elise Mertens.
The Belgian No.3 seed eased through to the second round of the Shenzhen Open with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko on Sunday.
"It was a little tricky, but I think I managed it pretty well," Mertens assessed afterwards. I mentally stayed calm, and I'm really happy to be here. Hopefully, I can play many matches here."
The Mertens also spoke about the hard yards she put in over the off-season after scoring her second consecutive Top 20 finish.
"I did a lot of hard work and hopefully it will pay off," she said. "I'm feeling confident as I won the match today."
Tsurenko, now ranked World No.73, was contesting her first tournament in nearly six months, having ended her 2019 season prematurely due to a right elbow injury.
Mertens, who lost her only previous meeting against Tsurenko in 2017, bounced back after losing serve in the first game of the match, and largely never trailed again from then on.
The World No.17 won four games in a row to wrestle command of the opener, and held off a late fight from the Ukrainian No.3 to take a one-set lead.
After failing to convert two break points which would've seen her lead 5-1, Mertens saved a pair on her own serve in a key seventh game en route to wrapping up the set.
While Tsurenko showed flashes of the form that took her to a career-high ranking of World No.23 last February, shortly following a run to her biggest career final at the Brisbane International, the 30-year-old's consistency eluded her for much of the match.
An early break of serve in the second set helped set the tone for the Belgian to sail through to victory in just over 90 minutes, and she wrapped up the match on her second match point by breaking serve for the fourth time overall.
Mertens led all three seeded players who were in action on Sunday into the second round. No.5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova ousted former Shenzhen champion Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, while No.8 seed Zhang Shuai eased passed Poland's Magda Linette.