HUA HIN, Thailand - Peng Shuai took the honors in the first of two all-Chinese derbies in the first round of the GSB Thailand Open presented by E@, dismissing Yuan Yue 6-1, 6-0 in just 47 minutes.
The unseeded Peng was in control throughout, dropping just seven points in the first set and 11 in the second to reach the second round in Hua Hin for the second year in a row. The World No.106 - who turned her 2019 season round with a strong Asian swing, reaching the Nanchang semifinals before finishing the year by going 12-2 in her last three ITF events - was in ruthless form, keeping an error-prone Yuan at bay with aggressive returns and drive volleys.
"I know that she's very young. We've practiced together and I know that she's a good young player in China. It's not easy, because I also feel a little bit nervous [to play a young compatriot]," Peng said after the match.
"She's a very nice girl and I think she has a nice future. I would like for her to do well. I think in today's match, she was nervous. I just tried to make her play."
World No.205 Yuan has been steadily rising over past year, having been ranked as low as World No.362 last April: she scored her first Top 100 win over Ons Jabeur in Beijing qualifying in October, and made her Grand Slam qualifying debut at the Australian Open last month, where she won a round. However, playing just the second WTA main draw of her career - Yuan previously received a wildcard into Tianjin 2018 - the 21-year-old found herself quickly over-matched.
Unable to keep her forehand in the court, Yuan quickly lost the first 10 points of the match - and indeed would only garner a meagre three points as she fell behind 0-5 in a set which saw her land only 35% of her first serves. By contrast, Peng's double-fisted groundstrokes were in searing form, firing a backhand return winner to seal the first break and winning 100% of her first serve points in the opening act.
Down 0-5, Yuan began to settle somewhat to post her sole hold of the day. But though she would hit more targets with her powerful forehand over the course of the second set, her all-out strategy was still leading to too many errors as it also began to get away from her. Ill-timed double faults didn't aid Yuan's cause - a fourth conceded the double break, and a fifth brought up a point for the triple break - and neither did some stellar Peng defense when she needed it, in particular a brilliant reflex lob in the fourth game.
Indeed, Peng always seemed to have an extra gear to go to when she needed to get out of a slightly tighter game, exemplified as she sped towards the finishing line. The 34-year-old former World No.14 hammered another backhand return winner to seal the triple break for 5-0, and then served out the win with consecutive bold winners from each wing. Up next for the 2014 US Open semifinalist will be either No.5 seed Magda Linette or Kateryna Bondarenko.
While the 34-year-old was dominant early in the day, 18-year-old Wang Xiyu turned heads at night. The 2018 US Open girls' singles champion scored her first career win over a Top 50 player by upsetting No.2 seed and World No.15 Petra Martic in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
The World No.134 saved all six break points that she faced in the match to earn her second Top 100 victory of the early season, having beaten then-World No.74 Sorana Cirstea in the first round of the Shenzhen Open.
“She’s a very good player and before the match I just think I do my best and do all I can and so I play every point and if she plays good, then well done," Wang said. "But I feel good, I don’t have any pressure because she is a very good player.
“This match gave me a lot of confidence and I think if I can keep doing things like I did today and focus my work I can keep winning.”