Simona Halep survived a second-set hiccup to outlast former No.1 Jelena Jankovic in the first round of the Shenzhen Open.
WTA Staff

SHENZHEN, China - No.2 seed Simona Halep unveiled an aggressive gameplan that helped her emerge victorious in a three-set tussle with former World No.1 Jelena Jankovic, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to advance into the second round of the Shenzhen Open.

"I'm happy to win today," she said in her post-match press conference. "It was a very good match because she's a very good player. I knew and expected a tough one; I'm really happy to have this match at this beginning of the week."

Halep spent the off-season training in Australia with coach Darren Cahill, and appeared to be employing some of those improvements early on against Jankovic, launching into her forehand and looking to terminate rallies early and often.

"I felt prepared before starting the match, and it confirms that I worked really hard during the off-season. I felt strong on court."

Jankovic struggled through most of the 2016 season with various injuries, but has played some of her best tennis in China over the last few years, reaching a second straight final in Guangzhou last fall. The Serb took a 4-1 lead in the second set and didn't look back, leveling the match at one set apiece.

"We've played many times together, and I knew how I had to play. I knew I'd have my chances to win the match, so I did every thing I could on court, and just wanted to do it in my style."

The pair exchanged breaks in the decider, and as Halep steadied she served out the match in just under two hours. Up next for the Romanian is either hometown favorite Peng Shuai or Katerina Siniakova.

"I won the first time I came to Shenzhen. It would be nice if that happened again, but everyone is playing well here - it's the highest level in tennis - so I just have to enjoy every moment on court. I enjoy the center court; I like it a lot. It's a huge court with a very nice atmosphere.

"Tomorrow I have doubles, and hopefully I will win more matches."