Tianjin: Maria Sharapova made an impressive start to the Tianjin Open on Wednesday, beating Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets.
Seeded ninth, Begu loomed as a tricky first-round opponent for Sharapova, but the former World No 1 from Russia swept to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
However, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova suffered a shock defeat, going out to local hope Zhu Lin in three sets. Even fourth seed Donna Vekic of Croatia lost to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-6(4), 4-4, 6-2.
Currently ranked 86th after returning from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova — granted a wildcard in Tianjin — plays unseeded Magda Linette of Poland next.
The 30-year-old Sharapova, who returned to tennis in April after serving a suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium, has yet to win a tournament since then.
The five-time Grand Slam winner exited the China Open last week in the third round at the hands of Romania's Simona Halep, the newly crowned World No 1.
But Sharapova had no such trouble against Begu, seeing off the 57th-ranked Romanian in 82 minutes.
The opening matches of the Tianjin Open have been badly disrupted because of rain.
"It's been a long wait for everyone, it hasn't been easy," the Russian was quoted as saying by the official WTA website.
"I had a first practice outdoors and then I think it rained for 70 hours straight, unfortunately for the players."
China’s Zhu Lin staved off a mid-match fightback to upset Kvitova for her maiden top 20 victory in the first round.
The unseeded Zhu, who won in the pair’s first meeting, held her own in the early exchanges against the two-time Wimbledon champion.
Kvitova was the first to blink at 4-4 as she handed her rival the chance to break. The Czech world number 17 missed out on a break in the next as the unforced errors crept up on her game.
Zhu ran up a 5-4 lead in the second set and appeared on course for a comfortable win before Kvitova produced a flurry of winners to level the contest at 1-1.
World number 113 Zhu went on the attack, taking a 5-3 lead in the decider. She had two chances to seal the match on Kvitova’s serve before eventually prevailing.
“I played so relaxed today,” Zhu said after the match.
”In the second set I was serving for the match, but she played great to win this, and then I came back in the third set and I played like my first set, and I think I did it!
“I just played my match. I didn’t think too much about the win, I just enjoyed the match.”
Updated Date: Oct 11, 2017 19:59 PM