BEIJING — Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams both advanced to the second round of the China Open on Sunday.
The No. 4-seeded Osaka won 76 per cent of first serves and hit 26 winners in her 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over unseeded American Jessica Pegula.
"I just felt like this match, I was kind of living in the moment every point. I wasn't really thinking too much in the future, too much in the past," said Osaka.
The reigning Australian Open champion won the fourth title of her career in Osaka last week. She will next play qualifier Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who beat Jil Teichmann 7-6 (4), 6-3 to advance.
Williams defeated Barbora Strycova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and thirty-three minutes to reach the round of 32.
The seven-time major winner converted three of four break points and rallied back from 3-5 down in the third set for the win.
"My strategy is always basically to dominate. Basically, whoever does that usually wins," William said.
It was a promising start for Williams, who had managed just four wins in her previous six China Open appearances. Williams will face Belinda Bencic of Switzerland next.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep also advanced, beating Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-1, 6-1 in just an hour and 11 minutes.
Halep was forced to withdraw from Wuhan last week due to a back injury, the same issue that sidelined her at the end of 2018.
"I was a little bit down before this tournament because it's happening again, like last year," said Halep. "I'm really happy I could win. The way I played makes me happier."
No. 3-seeded Elina Svitolina came back from a set down to beat Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-2, while American Sloane Stephens beat Magda Linette 7-5, 6-3.