A few days after triumphantly bagging her second Wuhan title, No.14-seeded Petra Kvitova will look to keep the momentum rolling in Beijing in her second-round tilt with Chinese wild card Wang Yafan. Kvitova has won 20 of her last 25 matches, and she's finally sustaining the type of consistency that can move her back into the Top 10. But the 26-year-old warns that it isn't going to be easy for her to maintain the jaw-dropping level she hit in Wuhan.
"I need this kind of consistency all year, which to be honest, I don't think I can really do that," Kvitova said after pummeling Dominika Cibulkova for her 18th career title on Saturday in Wuhan. "I'm probably the player who has up and downs. Of course, I am going to try to be better in the downs. But I don't really think that I can be consistent all season. I'm just how I am probably, and I can't really change it."
Kvitova may have to accept a certain amount of deviation in form due to her reliance on power and precision rather than margin, but she's just happy to have turned her season around with some sparkling tennis over the last two months.
"I'm happy that my ups, they are really high, which I love of course," she said. "The downs are very low, but that's how it is."
Will Kvitova stay high in Beijing and keep her hopes for a late run at a Singapore slot alive? Or will she fall prey to inconsistency against an unknown Chinese commodity? Wang, 22, has claimed seven ITF titles but has never broken into the Top 100 on tour. That said, she defeated Ana Konjuh to qualify for the main draw and knocked off World No.72 Madison Brengle in straight sets to reach the second round.
Pick: Kvitova in two
Yanina Wickmayer takes a 3-1 lifetime record into her second-round battle with Simona Halep, but the Belgian earned each of those three wins more than three years ago, and Halep has become a vastly improved, elite player since then. Halep demonstrated her superiority over Wickmayer when they last met in 2015 at the Australian Open's round of 16, defeating her in straight sets. It's been a mixed back for Wickmayer since she claimed the Citi Open title in late July. Since then she's lost six of eight and only recently regained her form. On Saturday Wickmayer blasted past Monica Puig, 6-2, 6-0, and she should be confident on the heels of that strong result. But Halep is fresh off a semifinal appearance at Wuhan and she has won 24 of her last 28 matches dating back to the first week of Wimbledon. Halep was handed a lopsided defeat by Petra Kvitova in the Wuhan semis, but the Romanian's confidence hasn't suffered because of it.
"I played semis, the best result here in China," she said last week. "I played good matches, good tennis. Even today I'm not negative. I cannot be. I played tough matches in the last months, and all were very, very good. So I'm okay."
Pick: Halep in two
2010 Beijing champion Caroline Wozniacki has turned her season around in the span of a red-hot month. On Tuesday she'll look to keep the good vibes rolling when she faces No.13-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci for a spot in the sweet 16. Vinci owns 23 hardcourt wins this season and she's always a tough out on the surface, but Wozniacki has defeated the 33-year-old in all three of their meetings on hardcourts. Can Vinci use her eclectic style to throw Wozniacki's game off saddle, or is Wozniacki, winner of 13 of her last 15 matches and six of her last seven deciders, simply too strong at this phase of the season to be denied?
Pick: Wozniacki in two
Two players in the midst of breakout seasons will vie for a spot in the round of 16 on Tuesday, as Johanna Konta and Timea Babos meet for the second time and the first time in more than four years. Konta, ranked No.14 this week, was outside of the Top 200 when she first met Babos, who was then No.59. Four years later both players are firmly inside the Top 30 with Konta now knocking on the door of the Top 10 and entertaining hopes of making a last-ditch run at WTA Finals qualification. But Konta will have to hurry if she wants to make it to Singapore. She's nearly 400 points behind No.8 Madison Keys on the RTS leaderboard and Beijing could be her only chance to make up the difference. Konta started her Asian swing with a quarterfinal performance at Wuhan last week, and she actually played Petra Kvitova pretty tough despite falling to the scorching-hot Czech in straight sets. Konta has won 18 of 23 matches since Wimbledon and continues to impress with her consistent level and supreme focus. The British No.1 doesn't ever lack intensity or purpose on the court, and that should serve her well when she meets Babos, who is still learning to compete at the elite level and can go off the rails at times.
Pick: Konta in two
By the Numbers:
23 - All but three of Wozniacki's 26 wins have come on hardcourts this season.
133 - Zhang Shuai's ranking at this year's Australian Open. The 27-year-old is currently the Chinese No.1, ranked at 36. She faces Alison Riske in second-round action on Tuesday.
4 - Previous champions remaining in the draw (Wozniacki, Kuznetsova, Radwanska and defending champion Muguruza).
0 - Number of successful China Open title defenses that have occurred. Garbiñe Muguruza is bidding to become the first.