SHENZHEN, China - No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza avoided an early exit at the hands of Chinese teenager Wang Xinyu in the first round of the Shenzhen Open.
The Spaniard, who won just one match following last year's French Open to season's end, dispatched the wildcard ranked World No.150 by winning the last nine games, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0.
"It's the first match in a long time and you cannot expect to play your best tennis," Muguruza told reporters afterwards. "My opponent played very well in the beginning and it took me some time to be patient, to await my opportunities, and I'm happy that I managed to win."
It's also a positive start to the resumption of Muguruza's partnership with new coach Conchita Martínez, with whom she won Wimbledon in 2017. "Different team, different energy!" the 26-year-old commented on her approach to a new decade. "We have worked together before - there's no secret about it. We've known each other for a long time, we have a good connection - there's no guarantees about it but so far, so good."
The former Grand Slam doubles junior champion at the Australian Open and Wimbledon found herself involved in another dramatic encounter at her hometown tournament, as the Shenzhen native pushed Maria Sharapova to the brink in last year's event before succumbing to injury.
Starting in similarly in-form fashion as she did in her last match against a Grand Slam champion in Shenzhen, Wang blitzed Muguruza for much of the first hour of the match with precise, flat hitting from the baseline, although she needed six set points to wrap up the opener. It was certainly enough to impress her accomplished opponent. Afterwards, Muguruza said: "I think she has incredible potential, she hits the ball very well. She's a very young player but [can be] very optimistic about her future if she keeps working."
Nonetheless, the Spaniard ultimately found her footing late in the second set, as she denied Wang two chances to level the scoreboard at 6-3, 4-4 and did not lose a game from then on.
The former World No.1 dropped just one point on serve in the final set, and just nine points across the last six games overall, to complete the comeback and move safely through to the second round in one hour and 34 minutes.
The current World No.36, who won just one match following the French Open to end 2019, will face American Shelby Rogers for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Rogers, who returned from an injury layoff of over a year last season, defeated compatriot Nicole Gibbs in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.