Many stars from the WTA Tour took to the court in Beijing to climb the rankings to secure their spot for the WTA Finals in Cancun in November.
Eight of the top 10 players in the WTA will appear, the lone exceptions being 7th ranked Karolina Muchova and 10th ranked Madison Keys.
The first round at the China Open saw world No.1 Aryna Sabalenka appear on the court for the first time since her defeat in the US Open final to Coco Gauff. Sabalenka defeated American Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-2 and only dropped a surprising six service points to advance to the second round at this WTA1000 tournament.
Coco Gauff took to the court against Ekaterina Alexandrova in her China Open debut. The reinging US Open champion has now gone 19-1 since her first round exit at Wimbledon, winning 7-5, 6-3 in her first appearance in Beijing.
Also advancing past the first round were: No. 2 Iga Swiatek, No. 4 Elena Rybakina, and No. 8 Ons Jabeur.
No. 5 ranked Jessica Pegula and No. 9 Maria Sakkari received a bye in the first round, and will start their run in Beijing in the second round, due to the turn-around time from the Torray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo where they advanced to the semifinals.
The China Open has already seen surprise upsets in the first round, Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina knocked off the Wimbledon champion and No. 6 Marketa Vondroušová in three sets.
This result opens the door for Jabeur and Sakkari to climb rankings to contend for a spot in the WTA Finals. After Pegula’s run in the Tokyo Open, there are only three singles spots left to contend for.
Sabalenka, Swiatek, Guaff, and Rybakina have also qualified for this year’s finals.