Sofia Kenin lost her first WTA Tour match since winning the Australian Open triumph to crash out of the Dubai Tennis Championships in the first round.

Kenin claimed her maiden grand slam title in Melbourne and then helped the United States to a place in the Fed Cup Finals with a 3-2 win over Latvia.

However, despite winning a tight opening set on Tuesday, she was defeated 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-3 by St Petersburg Ladies Trophy runner-up Elena Rybakina, whose reward is a second-round tie against Katerina Siniakova, who overcame Karolina Muchova 6-4 4-6 6-0.

"I didn't get nervous at all because I knew it was going to be tough," Rybakina, who was playing her sixth match in eight days, said.

"Actually, I prepared myself like it's a good practice. I didn't expect to win. I tried to do my best, but I was not nervous. I didn't think about her winning the Australian Open because I know that now anyone can beat anyone."

Kenin's defeat was not the only shock, however, with Belinda Bencic's defence of her title proving to be short-lived as she let a brilliant start slip in a remarkable loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

World number four Bencic was in complete control as she took the first 19 points but was unable to prevent Pavlyuchenkova building momentum in an extraordinary turnaround.

After losing seven of the first eight games, the Russian won 12 of the final 13 to cap a brilliant 1-6 6-1 6-1 triumph – her 15th win against top-five opposition and her second of 2020.

Bencic's capitulation followed on from another surprise result, with Jennifer Brady claiming a 6-2 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina.

Brady – who stunned world number one Ash Barty in Brisbane last month – needed just an hour to send the world number six, who won in Dubai in 2017 and 2018, packing.

Kristina Mladenovic cruised past Aliaksandra Sasnovich in straight sets to tee up a tie with second seed Karolina Pliskova.

Veronika Kudermetova got the better of Dayana Yastremska, while Petra Martic dispatched Hsieh Su-wei and Aryna Sabalenka saw off Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-1.

Kiki Bertens wasted little time in getting her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy defence up and running with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova.

The home hope found herself overmatched against the second seed from the off as Bertens surged into a 4-0 lead before a third break sealed the first set.

A break to cut the gap to 3-2 in the second proved a false dawn for Kudermetova, who failed to win another game after that as she was beaten in under an hour.

Another Russian, qualifier Anastasia Potapova, is up next for Bertens.

Third seed Petra Kvitova found the going somewhat tougher before prevailing 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-2 against Alison van Uytvanck in two hours and 16 minutes.

"Definitely, it was a tough one," Kvitova said, following a match featuring a remarkable 33 break-point opportunities.

"I’ve never played Alison before, and she'd already played one match on the surface, and for me it was the first one, so that's always a bit challenging."

Kvitova must now take on the in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Russian claimed her ninth straight win indoors as she beat seventh seed Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5, while Maria Sakkari was also a straight-sets winner over Alize Cornet.

At the Thailand Open, top seed Elina Svitolina made short work of Storm Sanders, blowing away the qualifier 6-1 6-2 in 57 minutes.

Magda Linette was a 7-5 6-1 winner against the experienced Peng Shuai in blustery conditions and has further Chinese opposition coming up after Wang Xiya defeated Barbara Haas 6-3 6-4.

Romania's Patricia Maria Tig also reached the quarter-finals in straight sets at the expense of sixth seed Yafan Wang.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova and fifth seed Elina Svitolina were high-profile casualties in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

Pliskova fell to a straight-sets defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svitolina was soundly beaten by two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

Belinda Bencic and Donna Vekic were also sent packing, losing to Anett Kontaveit and Iga Swiatek respectively.

There was no sign of a slip-up from former world number one Simona Halep, however, as she made serene progress to the next round by easing past Yulia Putintseva.

 

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA CRASH OUT

After defending champion Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams were eliminated on Friday, Pliskova joined the star duo in dropping out of the tournament.

Pliskova went down 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) to 30th seed Pavlyuchenkova in the first match on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

"I think she was playing very well. Maybe the best she played against me so far in the last couple matches," Pliskova told reporters. "But let's say I was [at] about 40 per cent of my game, so of course then she can feel so much better if I just don't play enough [of] what I can play. 

"That's how it is. I think especially [in] the important moments she always served well so I had a couple chances here and there. But I think she just played better than me."

Svitolina did not fare much better as she lost to Muguruza in 67 minutes, the Spaniard - now ranked 32 in the world - hitting 31 winners to advance 6-1 6-2.

 

BENCIC, VEKIC SENT PACKING

It was another tough day for seeds as Bencic (6) and Vekic (19) failed to progress beyond the third round in Melbourne.

US Open semi-finalist Bencic was swept aside in just 49 minutes, humbled 6-0 6-1 by 28th seed Kontaveit on Margaret Court Arena.

"I think every grand slam there are seeded players losing, so I think this grand slam was even the best because no top-10 player lost in first round," she said in a news conference. "It's the same at every grand slam. There are upsets, and I think it's normal, because it's tennis, and tennis is very unpredictable."

Kontaveit will face Swiatek after the 18-year-old stunned Vekic 7-5 6-3.

 

HALEP, KERBER MOVE ON

Halep thwarted in-form Putintseva 6-1 6-4 to move through to the second week of the slam for a third consecutive year.

Fourth seed Halep - runner-up in Melbourne two years ago - needed one hour, 18 minutes to progress to the fourth round.

Away from Rod Laver Arena, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber ground out a 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory over Italian Camila Giorgi.

Kerber was pushed but the three-time major winner clinched a spot in the fourth round for the fifth successive season after two hours, eight minutes.

 

MERTENS AND BERTENS ADVANCE

Next up for Halep is 16th seed Elise Mertens, who required three sets to overcome CiCi Bellis.

Mertens was two points from victory in the second set after taking a 5-4 lead in the tiebreak but failed to close it out. However, she managed to keep her run alive by reeling off the next six games in succession.

The 2018 semi-finalist breezed through the final set to wrap up a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 victory in just under two hours.

Joining Mertens in the next round was Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens, who made the second week of the Australian Open for the first time.

Bertens claimed a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory over Zarina Diyas and has a meeting with Svitolina's conqueror Muguruza to look forward to.

Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber claimed comfortable second-round wins at the Australian Open as Garbine Muguruza survived a scare on Thursday.

It was a good day for the women's seeds at Melbourne Park, as 10 of the 12 in action moved into the third round.

Halep, Pliskova and Kerber were among them, while the unseeded Muguruza also progressed.

The top 10 seeds remain alive in the women's draw, with a few familiar faces shaping as contenders once more.

 

HALEP, PLISKOVA AND KERBER PROGRESS

A runner-up in Melbourne in 2018, fourth seed Halep was largely untroubled in a 6-2 6-4 win over British qualifier Harriet Dart.

The Romanian managed five breaks of serve and will meet Yulia Putintseva, who edged last year's semi-finalist Danielle Collins, scoring a 6-4 2-6 7-5 win against the 26th seed.

Pliskova has reached at least the quarter-finals at the past three Australian Opens and the Czech second seed looks like a challenger.

She had few problems in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Laura Siegemund on Rod Laver Arena.

Pliskova will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after the Russian 30th seed battled past Taylor Townsend 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

Kerber, the 2016 champion, was untroubled by Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon in a 6-3 6-2 win.

MUGURUZA FIGHTS THROUGH

Two-time grand slam champion Muguruza was pushed in a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Muguruza mixed 34 winners with 39 unforced errors, but an even bigger test awaits in the third round.

FIfth seed Elina Svitolina set up a meeting with Muguruza by overcoming American Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

That late-night clash on Margaret Court Arena became dramatic in the second set as Svitolina failed to seize a chance to serve for the match, Davis forcing the tense tie-break.

 

BENCIC, VEKIC CONTINUE RUNS

Coming off a semi-final appearance at the US Open last year, Belinda Bencic overcame former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 7-5.

The Swiss star will meet Anett Kontaveit, who recorded a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Donna Vekic, the 19th seed, has cruised through her opening two matches after brushing past Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Meanwhile, Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens was too good for Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova 6-3 7-5.

Karolina Muchova, the 20th-seeded Czech, was well beaten by CiCi Bellis 6-4 6-4.

Twenty-year-old American Bellis is playing her first grand slam in two years after injury kept her out of action for 18 months.

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova came through their first-round matches at the Australian Open, as Maria Sharapova suffered an early exit in the women's singles.

Fourth seed Halep was handed a testing opener against Jennifer Brady, who had beaten Ash Barty at the Brisbane International this month.

But the Romanian prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes to join home hope Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka and tournament favourite Serena Williams in round two.

An up-and-down first set was crucial, as Halep twice recovered from a break down and saved three set points while Brady was serving at 6-5.

Halep found a way to force a tie-break and then edged it 7-5 before running away with the contest in the second set.

Wimbledon champion Halep also had to overcome a first-set fall that required the trainer to check on her wrist and joked she had also stumbled in her first match of the 2018 tournament, when she made it all the way to the final.

"In 2018 it was the same, probably I can repeat that!" said Halep.

"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it's a good sign but it's too far to think about that.

"My wrist is pretty painful. I need to chill and recover for the second round."

Second seed Pliskova earned a 6-1 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic, losing serve just once in the 87-minute battle. The Czech faces Laura Siegemund next, while Halep will take on Harriet Dart.


TOP 10 ALL THROUGH AS SHARAPOVA'S WOES CONTINUE

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the first round of a grand slam following a 6-3 6-4 defeat against 19th seed Donna Vekic as the former world number one hit 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open, Sharapova - who has been struggling for form and fitness - crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.

Sixth seed Belinda Bencic won 6-3 7-5 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, while Madison Keys was a 6-3 6-1 victor against Daria Kasatkina, as all of the top 10 seeds moved safely into round two.

Elina Svitolina claimed a 6-4 7-5 victory in her match against Katie Boulter, while former grand slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza were winners against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Shelby Rogers respectively. Muguruza won by an unusual 0-6 6-1 6-0 scoreline.


KONTA AND VONDROUSOVA BOW OUT

Johanna Konta, Marketa Vondrousova, Amanda Anisimova and Anastasija Sevastova were the seeds to fall on day two.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016, British 12th seed Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to Ons Jabeur.

On the comeback trail following a tendinitis-related problem in her right knee, which forced her to withdraw from Brisbane and Adelaide, Konta was only making her second appearance since losing in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Konta said: "Ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. How I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September. Before Brisbane I had been out for almost four-and-a-half months."

Czech Vondrousova, the 15th seed and French Open finalist last year, lost in three sets to Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Another rising star fell as 18-year-old American Anisimova lost out in a final set to Zarina Diyas, while home hope Ajla Tomljanovic emphatically accounted for Sevastova with a 6-1 6-1 triumph to book a round-two meeting with Muguruza.

World number six Elina Svitolina has added Marcos Baghdatis to her coaching team.

Baghdatis, a winner of four ATP Tour singles titles, retired at Wimbledon in July in order to spend more time with his family.

The 34-year-old Greek on Wednesday revealed he will assist Andrew Bettles in coaching WTA Finals runner-up Svitolina.

"I am so glad to announce the next chapter of my life and look forward to coaching a great athlete and super tennis player, No.6 ranked WTA player Elina Svitolina, working alongside Andy Bettles!" he posted on Instagram.

"I want to thank Elina for putting her trust in me. Let's do this! Bring on 2020."

Former world number three Svitolina failed to win a title this year, but broke new ground at grand slams by reaching the semi-final stage at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Ashleigh Barty denied the 25-year-old from Ukraine back-to-back WTA Finals titles in Shenzhen last month.

Ashleigh Barty was struggling to make sense of the "bizarre" experience of winning the WTA Finals after her straight-sets victory over Elina Svitolina.

The Australian capped the greatest season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday, collecting $4.42million after dethroning the 2018 winner.

It was a superb display from the French Open champion, who had suffered a group-stage loss to Kiki Bertens in China.

Asked to reflect on how her success felt, the world number one said: "Bizarre, if I'm being completely honest. 

"It feels like it's been a year that just hasn't stopped. It's been a year of incredible ups and downs – I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night in Shenzhen is really cool.

"To come through a week like this, you have to beat the best of the best. It takes me back to some memories in Miami where I felt like I did that for the first time, beating back-to-back top-10 players, having that really consistent week.

"I've grown and developed so much since that fortnight in Miami. To be able to bounce back after the disappointment after my match with Kiki [Bertens] was really important."

World number one Ashleigh Barty dethroned Elina Svitolina with a straight-sets victory to secure a maiden WTA Finals title and record prize money.

Barty put the icing on the cake at the end of the best season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday.

The French Open champion ended her 2018 campaign by claiming the WTA Elite Trophy and showed the huge strides she has made by lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy 12 months later.

Top seed Barty started the year 15th in the rankings and ends it as the best in the world with a first grand slam under her belt, also picking up $4.42million for her triumph in China.

Svitolina's bank account would have been swelled to the tune of $4.73m if she had retained the title, but the eighth seed had to settle for $2.4m following her first defeat of the tournament.

Australian Barty was a bundle of energy throughout a hard-fought championship match, hitting 30 winners and coming from a break down in the second set to win her fourth event in 2019.

Barty charged into the net with purpose in a positive start and there were no signs of nerves from Svitolina, who blasted down an ace for a hold to love in her opening service game.

Both players mixed up their approach in a tight opening set and it was not until the ninth game that the first break point came, Barty fending that off before taking a 5-4 lead.

Svitolina was under pressure at 0-30 down in the next game and Barty wrapped up the opening set with a rasping forehand return winner after a benefiting from a huge slice of luck from the net cord.

The favourite gifted Svitolina a break for a 2-1 lead in the second with a double fault after a string of backhand errors but hit straight back to level with an overhead volley.

Barty was in the ascendancy, prowling around the court with great athleticism to force the world number eight onto the back foot and a first double fault from the defending champion left her 4-2 down.

Svitolina was not going to relinquish her title without a fight, though, and was back on serve when Barty sent a backhand wide, but she failed to hold for the third game in a row.

Barty grasped her chance to serve out the match, closing it out with a hold to love.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina for the WTA Finals title after both players came from a set down in their last-four contests.

Barty, who is aiming to round off comfortably the best year of her career with a maiden WTA Finals triumph, beat Karolina Pliskova 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the second semi-final in Shenzhen.

The French Open champion thumped 36 winners and saved all but one of the 12 break points she faced, yet she will have to break new ground in order to deny Svitolina a successful title defence.

Svitolina, who is remarkably set to play in her first final of 2019, has won all five of the pair's previous meetings.

The Ukrainian held a 5-7 6-3 4-1 lead when her semi-final rival, Belinda Bencic, retired due to cramping.

"You never want to finish the match and to see your opponent retiring," said Svitolina in an on-court interview. "It's very tough for her, especially at the end of the season, one of the biggest tournaments. Hopefully she can recover and be strong for next year.

"When I was coming to this tournament, definitely I was expecting very tough matches. It's the last tournament of the season, tomorrow [Sunday] is the last match of the season finally! It's going to be a tough one but I'm going to leave everything on the court to try to raise the cup again."

"I really didn't want to retire," Bencic said in a news conference. "I wanted to finish the match, but it was not possible. I'm really disappointed."

Simona Halep was branded an "absolute disgrace" by coach Darren Cahill as Karolina Pliskova came out on top in a crucial round-robin WTA Finals clash to reach the last four.

Pliskova and Halep went into the last Purple Group contest in Shenzhen on Friday knowing the winner would face top seed Ashleigh Barty at the semi-final stage and the loser's season was over.

Halep fought back following the humiliation of a first-set bagel, but Pliskova came from a break down in the final set to win 6-0 2-6 6-4.

The Wimbledon champion rallied following some words of wisdom from Cahill at the end of the first set, but the Australian said she had been "an absolute disgrace" over a critical three-game spell during another on-court coaching session after she squandered a lead in the final set.

Second seed Pliskova blew away an out-of-sorts Halep in the first set, the Czech losing just two service points after an aggressive start.

A forehand into the net put Halep a break down and Pliskova continued to return with vigour, toying with the Romanian as she took just 21 minutes to wrap up the set.

Halep heeded Cahill's advice by using more spin and taking pace of the ball as she broke in the opening game of the second set and showed character to edge a break up at 3-2 after Pliskova got back on serve.

Pliskova was unable to halt Halep's momentum and the fifth seed levelled the match with an ace before taking a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Yet Pliskova responded by winning five games in a row, peppering Halep with searing ground strokes and coming to the net at every opportunity.

Cahill's harsh words at 3-2 failed to prompt a positive reaction from Halep, and although she was able to get back on serve at 5-4, she was broken for the third time in the final set and bowed out when Pliskova had fortune with a netcord winner.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina earlier made it three wins out of three with a 7-5 7-6 (12-10) defeat of alternate Sofia Kenin and will take on Belinda Bencic for a place in the final.

Bianca Andreescu failed to shake off a knee injury as she fell to a third straight defeat and departed the WTA Finals, where defending champion Elina Svitolina advanced from the Purple Group.

US Open champion Andreescu, still just 19, had been enjoying an incredible 17-match winning run on the WTA Tour until coming up short in a gripping encounter against Naomi Osaka at the China Open.

The Canadian did not play again until this week's year-end Finals, making a losing return in a narrow defeat to idol Simona Halep.

And any hopes of Andreescu arresting that mini-slump were ended by an issue with her left knee in Shenzhen as she bowed out to world number two Karolina Pliskova.

Andreescu, needing to win to stay in the tournament, broke in the first game of the match but was soon limping, retreating to her seat and calling a medical timeout.

Heavy strapping was applied to the teenager's knee, yet she continued to move uneasily as she sought to continue, seeing Pliskova break back immediately.

Andreescu told Sylvain Bruneau she "heard a crack" and was struggling to bend her knee but insisted she was still capable of beating Pliskova despite the advice of her coach.

"I don't want to stop," she said. "If it was against Simona, then okay. But [Pliskova] misses."

Andreescu showed grit to then hold after saving three break points, but it was only a temporary reprieve as Pliskova sent down a backhand return to seize the advantage in her opponent's next service game.

Pliskova held to take the set 6-3 and Andreescu finally gave in, retiring for a defeat that sees her out of the competition as the Czech faces Halep for a place in the last four.

Halep had wasted an opportunity to book her spot in the semi-finals early on Wednesday when she was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Svitolina.

The Wimbledon champion battled back from 3-0 down early on but then missed the chance to break in front with a poor call on a drop shot, subsequently losing the opener with an error-strewn final service game.

Having been behind throughout the first set, Halep led in the second with a break to love but was quickly pegged back, soon complaining to coach Darren Cahill that she felt unable to disrupt Svitolina's game.

Svitolina, who defeated Sloane Stephens in the 2018 final, preyed on more Halep mistakes to break in front and wrapped up a relatively comfortable triumph in straight sets.

Simona Halep came from a set down to claim a gripping 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory over Bianca Andreescu at the WTA Finals.

Halep was forced to hang in the contest as Andreescu breezed her way to the opener and was afforded match point before the second set went to a tiebreak.

But 28-year-old's trademark tenacity gradually pulled the argument in her favour as her ebullient foe was compromised by back problems down the stretch.

Andreescu had spoken of her excitement at facing Halep for the first time in her career but this did not extend to reverence of any sort during the contest.

The 19-year-old's blistering ground strokes were to the fore, but she also played with a variety that never allowed Halep to settle during an opening set she won in 39 minutes.

Halep secured an early break in the second but ceded it when Andreescu pulled level at 4-4 – the game after the Wimbledon champion was seemingly irritated by her opponent pulling off a through-the-legs tweener shot.

Andreescu was unable to take a match point at advantage on the Halep serve and the Romanian raced into a 3-0 lead in the tie-break.

Halep then converted her third set point, after which Andreescu received treatment for the first time.

When the trainer came on again immediately before a break for Halep, Andreescu's race appeared to be run – only for her to stunningly get back on terms to 15.

A third straight break followed, however, and Halep would not be denied, clattering home the first of three match points to conclude a captivating two-and-a-half hours.

Up next for Halep in the Purple Group is Elina Svitolina, who began the defence of her title with a straight-sets win over Karolina Pliskova, a titanic first-set tie-break proving pivotal to a 7-6 (14-12) 6-4 win.

Pliskova broke in the opening game but too often produced lackadaisical tennis as she failed to build upon the advantage, not least when Svitolina took the second of two break points for 2-2.

A breaker of epic proportions was eventually taken by Svitolina, the frontrunner throughout converting a seventh set point having only had to save one conceded to Pliskova.

The Czech won three straight games from 2-0 down in the second but Svitolina broke back for 3-3 and came through some stern examinations of her serve before sealing victory when Pliskova sent a return into the net.

World number one Ashleigh Barty has been drawn to face Naomi Osaka in the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

French Open champion and top seed Barty will come up against two-time grand slam winners Osaka and Petra Kvitova, along with seventh seed Belinda Bencic in the Red Group.

Barty was on Friday announced as the winner of the Race to Shenzhen ahead of Karolina Pliskova and hopes to celebrate by being crowned champion in her singles debut at the season-ending tournament in China.

"It was already an honour to qualify for the WTA Finals, but to also finish the Race to Shenzhen on top is an achievement I'm incredibly proud of," the Australian said. 

"This is a special tournament for myself and my team and I’ll be fighting hard to finish the WTA season with the Shenzhen title."

Pliskova will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu in the Purple Group.

US Open champion Andreescu and 22-year-old Swiss Bencic will be making their debuts in the tournament.

Osaka and Kvitova meet in the first match of the event on Sunday.

Veronika Kudermetova upset top seed Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup and Jelena Ostapenko fought back to knock Elise Mertens out of the Luxembourg Open on Thursday.

Kudermetova came out on top in her first match against a top-five opponent, defeating Svitolina 6-1 2-6 7-5 in Moscow.

The 22-year-old Russian wrapped up the opening set in only 28 minutes and came from 2-0 down in the decider to move into the quarter-finals.

Kudermetova's attacking approach paid off, world number four Svitolina showing resolve in the final set but missing out on a last-eight showdown with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Second seed Kiki Bertens advanced with 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Kaia Kanepi, while Pavlyuchenkova won an all-Russian contest with Varvara Gracheva 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Kristina Mladenovic will face Bertens after battling her way past sixth seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The top seed also bowed out Luxembourg, with Ostapenko digging deep to see off Mertens 4-6 6-2 6-2.

Ostapenko, runner-up to Coco Gauff at the Linz Open last weekend, will now come up against Antonia Lottner, who went through when Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee injury after losing the first set 6-1.

Defending champion Julie Goerges saw off Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Anna Blinkova and Monica Puig also made it through, defeating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (8-6). 

Bianca Andreescu's first match since her US Open triumph went to plan despite a brief wobble against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Monday.

The Canadian secured a 14th straight win on the WTA Tour as she defeated Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 6-1 at the China Open.

Andreescu proved her mental strength time and again en route to her maiden grand slam success and was required to do more of the same in Beijing, seeing a straightforward opener give way to a gruelling second set.

The fifth seed recovered her composure and raced to victory in the third, setting up a clash with Elise Mertens, who gave her a real test in the Flushing Meadows quarter-finals.

"I felt like in the second set I was too tense. But she was playing really well," Andreescu said. "I think I was just getting down on myself too much.

"I think I play my best tennis when I'm a little bit more relaxed. In the third set I just wanted to stay as positive as I could and just stay relaxed, to continue going for my shots."

Mertens eased past Petra Martic 6-3 6-3 to book that match-up, but there were surprises elsewhere.


HALEP HOPES ENDED

It was announced on Monday that Andreescu and Simona Halep had secured their places in the WTA Finals.

But where Andreescu celebrated with a win to start the final Premier Mandatory tournament of the year, Halep – still troubled by a back issue – came unstuck, the sixth seed beaten 6-2 6-3 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Alexandrova reflected: "It was a pretty tough match, but I think she didn't play that well.

"I remember when we played last time in Cincinnati, it was tougher. But I tried to stay focused for the whole match because I knew she could play just amazing."

Jelena Ostapenko upset Karolina Pliskova on Saturday, but her run was also ended as she fell 6-2 6-1 to Katerina Siniakova.


WOZNIACKI WINS OPENER

Caroline Wozniacki has endured a tough 2019, but she marked her return to Beijing with a dominant defeat of Lauren Davis.

The Dane has won the China Open twice - including 12 months ago at the end of an outstanding season - and began her latest bid by beating Davis 6-1 6-3.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to avoid an upset, overcoming teenager Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"It was tough," Bertens said. "I hadn't played her before but, of course, she hits the ball so hard, so you never really know what you're going to get."

Elina Svitolina battled back impressively in both sets against Wang Yafan to progress courtesy of a pair of tie-breaks.


BENCIC BATTLES BACK

Venus Williams saw her campaign ended by US Open semi-finalist Belinda Bencic.

The 39-year-old took the opener but went down 3-6 6-3 7-5 in the final match of the day.

Madison Keys defeated Karolina Muchova to set up an all-American meeting with Jennifer Brady, who beat 18-year-old compatriot and French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova

Sofia Kenin is set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who sunk fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

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