Chinese wildcard Zhang Shuai thrilled the home crowd with a decisive win over Timea Bacsinszky to kick off round robin play at the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
WTA Staff

ZHUHAI, China - No.12 seed and wildcard Zhang Shuai rang in the start of the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in impressive style, defeating No.6 seed Timea Bacsinszky, 6-1, 6-1, to take the early lead in the Camellia Group.

"I am very happy to win, actually just to play in my home country and win the first game here," she said after the match through translation. "I cannot say how happy I am about this.

"It's been three weeks since the China Open, and during that time it was a bit tough for me. Without game I kind of don't know what to do with my life! Even though continuous game and competition makes me tired. I like playing even more."

Zhang is in the midst of a career-best season, one that has seen her rise from outside the Top 100 to a high of No.27 after reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and China Open just three weeks ago. Playing Bacsinszky, a former Top 10 player whom she narrowly beat at the Olympic tennis event, Zhang blistered past her Swiss opposition in 57 minutes, dropping just three points behind her first serve.

"It's been three months since the Olympics by now, and I did see my progress in the performance. I have to say this is not a coincidence. I am pretty confident in myself now.

"I just watched some of the video parts of me playing Bacsinszky during the Olympics and I can see that after that and after all the games in Beijing and Japan and Wuhan and Korea I really improved a lot. I believe that if I can make the best out of my training I can play even better game. I also do enjoy my home court advantage here. It was great game for me."

Hoping to reach the semifinals in her Zhuhai debut, Zhang will have to get past first alternate Timea Babos, who entered the Camellia Group after No.2 seed Carla Suárez Navarro withdrew due to a right wrist injury.

"I am physically doing very well. After Beijing I took three weeks off and I well adjusted myself. I'm fully recovered now.

"I can say that I'm at my best at this moment. "That is one of the reasons why I played well."

In the second match of the day, Elina Svitolina overcame a slow start to defeat Kiki Bertena, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"I think she started playing really well and I was bit in and out with my attitude and with my game," Svitolina said after the match.

"But then I was just waiting for my chances, and I think in the second set I took my chances. In the end I think just playing solid was the key for me today."