TIANJIN, China – No.2 seed Wang Qiang secured a comfortable passage through to the second round of the Tianjin Open thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Arina Rodionova.
The World No.22, who was born and brought up in the city, always looked in control of the match against an opponent who had three times had to rally from a set behind in qualifying to reach the main draw.
Wang, who had won only one of her previous three matches during this swing in her homeland, proved too powerful for the World No.236, who nevertheless showed moments of excellent touch throughout the 80-minute long encounter.
“I think I played quite well in Wuhan and Beijing. I also got cramp in Beijing,” she said, commenting on a match in which she led Andrea Petkovic by a set and 4-0, and even held two match points before she was forced to retire.
“In Tianjin, I’m just enjoying my matches.”
A lengthy opening game showed the hometown heroine that should would not have matters all her own way, and though she quickly established a break, it was immediately cancelled out.
Wang’s forehand, though, was the dominant shot of the first set as she re-established her advantage then went on to secure the set courtesy of 15 winners to 12 unforced errors.
Rodionova, whose only Top 30 wins previously had come on grass, had shown impressive sticking power in the opening set and would do so again in the second, particularly after she fell behind.
The Australian clawed the break back in the sixth game and had something to hold onto when she held serve subsequently.
She did not, however, have the penetration on her groundstrokes that her opponent boasted, and over the course of the match hit 12 winners to 22 unforced errors. One of those, a missed overhead as Wang served at 30-30, 4-4, proved to be a critical moment of the match, spurring the higher-ranked player into hitting with greater intensity.
Having come uncomfortably close to falling a break behind, Wang’s game stepped up a notch and she won nine of the last 10 points to secure a second-round meeting with Heather Watson.
She has never gone beyond the second round in her home tournament and will therefore be eager to repeat her Tuesday success against the Brit.