Tough at the top: Angelique Kerber survives scare at Wuhan Open in first match as number one

The German beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-4, on Tuesday to set-up a third round meeting with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 6:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 11:01pm

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 tiebreak.

But Germany’s Kerber then swept through the rest of the match to win 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,” said top seed Kerber, who is set to play October’s Prudential Hong Kong Open.

Watch: Angelique Kerber v Kristina Mladenovic highlights

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 said.

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 de Janeiro.

Italy’s Vinci, ranked 15, was ousted by Yaroslava Shvedova 7-5, 6-2 – her second defeat to the Kazakh this year.

Radwanska will now meet an in-form Caroline Wozniacki, who accounted for Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-4, in the third round of the US$2.6 million hard-court 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.

Watch: Agnieszka Radwanska v Ekaterina Makarova highlights

In matches last night, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia upset number two seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) while Johanna Konta of Britain accounted for China's Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-3. Venus Williams moved through to the next round with a 6-3, 6-2 effort over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan).

Earlier, 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.