GUANGZHOU, China - No.4 seed Aleksandra Krunic made a winning start to her week at the Gunagzhou International Women's Open with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic.
The 2017 finalist needed 95 minutes to see off her fellow 25-year-old and advance to a second-round meeting with American Christina McHale, who also advanced when Romania's Ana Bogdan retired in the final set of their match on Tuesday.
The Serb was unseeded in her run to the final in Guangzhou a year ago, where she upset then-defending champion and No.4 seed Lesia Tsurenko in the opening round en route to reaching her first-ever WTA final before losing to home favorite Zhang Shuai.
One year on, the now-World No.50 is the No.4 seed in Guangzhou herself after having won her first WTA title on the grass courts of 's-Hertogenbosch earlier this summer.
Krunic broke the Swiss World No.103 four times to score victory in her first match since a third-round exit at the US Open at the hands of Madison Keys, and reach the last 16 for the second straight year.
After failing to convert two break points in the second game of the match, Krunic was the first to fall behind a break in the opener as the Swiss No.3 broke to love to lead 2-1.
However, the defending finalist quickly settled in from there, winning the next four games and breaking Golubic twice herself to lead 5-2.
Unable to arrive at set point for the better part of an hour, however, Krunic held off Golubic fom there, as she wrapped up the opener behind a third break of serve.
The decisive break in the second set came for the Serbian No.1 in the sixth game, as she took her third chance out of a 0-40 lead to move ahead at 4-2.
Unable to convert a break point in the first game of the set, Golubic also held two in the match's final game, but ultimately Krunic saved them both to move safely through to the second round.