Victoria Azarenka’s latest quest to end her two-year title drought began in positive fashion at the Wuhan Open with a straight-sets win over Lauren Davis.
Azarenka has not tasted success on the WTA circuit since her triumph at the Cincinnati Masters in 2013 after suffering with an injury that saw her tumble down the rankings.
Now back to full fitness, the Belarusian has worked her way back towards the top 20, but she has only been past the quarter-finals once this season ” in Doha, where she lost in the final to Lucie Safarova.
With only a month of competition left in the 2015 season, the Wuhan Open provides Azarenka with a chance to end her wait for a title, and she cruised into the second round with a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win.
After dominating the opening set, Azarenka was made to battle for the second by her American opponent, but showed her quality in the tie-break to progress.
She will meet Johanna Konta in round two after the Briton sent 13th seed Andrea Petkovic crashing out, Konta winning 6-4 7-5 in just under two hours.
Petkovic was not the only big name to fall on the opening day of competition as Sam Stosur was beaten 6-2 6-1 by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
There were no such problems for 12th seed Elina Svitolina as she sailed past Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-4, the 2014 semi-finalist off to an impressive start.
Svitolina will meet Varvara Lepchenko following her 6-4 6-0 triumph over Zheng Saisai, while Daria Gavrilova has the daunting task of facing defending champion Petra Kvitova after beating Teliana Pereira 6-2 7-6 (9-7).
Sunday also saw straight-set wins for Barbora Strycova, Julia Goerges, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Monica Niculescu, while Coco Vandeweghe needed three sets to knock Lesia Tsurenko out 6-2 2-6 6-3.