World number one Kerber survives scare in Wuhan
The German, newly crowned world number one after the US Open, required three sets to see off Kristina Mladenovic at the WTA Premier event.
Angelique Kerber survived a scare in her first match as world number one before beating Kristina Mladenovic in three sets at the Wuhan Open on Tuesday.
The US and Australian Open champion, who had a bye in the first round, made a convincing start before missing two set points and allowing Mladenovic to take the first set in a tie break.
But Germany's Kerber then swept through the rest of the match, winning 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 6-4, to set up a third-round meeting with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
"I was trying to find my rhythm because I was not playing my best in the first set," top seed Kerber said after the match.
Kvitova said she would be trying not to think about Kerber's new status as world number one, formalised when the rankings were updated after this month's US Open, when they play on Wednesday. "[It] will be for the first time... that I will play her as a number one, which is a little bit different. But I think if I'm on the court, I don't really think about that," she told reporters.
World number four Agnieszka Radwanska also romped into the third round, as last year's US Open finalist Roberta Vinci became the tournament's first seeded casualty.
One-time Wimbledon runner-up Radwanska won 6-4, 6-1 against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, who bagged Olympic women's doubles gold last month in Rio.
Italy's Vinci, ranked 15, was ousted by Yaroslava Shvedova 7-5, 6-2 -- her second defeat to the Kazakh this year.
Radwanska could now meet an in-form Caroline Wozniacki, who plays qualifier Katerina Siniakova later on Tuesday, in the third round of the $2.6 million hardcourt event.
The former world number one beat Poland's Radwanska in the semi-finals of last week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, en route to her first title of the year.
"We always [have] long battles against each other, especially on the slower surface [such] as here," Radwanska said of Wozniacki.
Meanwhile, American Madison Brengle fell to 10th-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-0, 6-4, as eighth seed Madison Keys beat Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4.
Former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Barbora Strycova downed Japan's Misaki Doi, while Daria Kasatkina of Russia beat fellow qualifier American Louisa Chirico.