Sharapova gets revenge over Sevastova in Beijing
Simona Halep began a new quest for world No.1, Maria Sharapova returned and Caroline Wozniacki celebrated without playing in Beijing.
Maria Sharapova avenged her US Open defeat to Anastasija Sevastova, eliminating the Latvian in the first round of the China Open.
Sharapova had not played since her fourth-round loss at Flushing Meadows, but applied the lessons of that defeat to secure a hard-earned, three-set victory in Beijing.
Sevastova (16) was not the only seed to fall during Sunday's action, with Kristina Mladenovic (13) losing in straight sets to Duan Yingying - a result which secured Caroline Wozniacki's qualification for the WTA Finals.
Simona Halep (2), Angelique Kerber (10) and Petra Kvitova (12) all made round three.
MARIA ON SONG
Sharapova has reached the final the last two times she has competed at this WTA Premier event, winning the title in 2014.
She was made to work hard to progress, however, coming out on top 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 7-6 (9-7) after more than three hours on court.
"It's been a while since I've been in a third set tie-breaker and on one side I felt I shouldn't have been in that position, but when you are in that position you do everything you can to make it go your way," Sharapova said.
"I was happy, I was still moving forward. I went for my shots and I hit a great forehand on match point so I didn't give in, which is a really good sign, since it's a few weeks since I've played and I lost to her last time.
"It's always good to come out with a win no matter how you do it."
HALEP BEGINS LATEST BID FOR #1
Simona Halep has seen two opportunities to move to the top of the WTA rankings slip by already this year, but the world number two has another chance in Beijing, where she must make the final.
The Romanian entered the tournament on the back of a three-match losing streak, but she stopped the rot with a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win over Alison Riske.
Halep was aided by the American's propensity to double fault at crucial times, including one such moment which wiped out an early first-set advantage.
Soon after Halep reeled off 12 consecutive points to forge ahead, but she could not maintain that momentum and ventured into a deciding set as she routinely let Riske off the hook.
But the world number two's quality would shine through as she seized an early break in the third set and cruised from there.
KVITOVA KEEPS THE CROWN
Petra Kvitova's first-round meeting with Krystyna Pliskova had national pride as well as a second-round berth on the line.
These are clashes that Kvitova clearly relishes, as she extended her winning streak over her fellow Czechs to 23 matches with a 6-3 7-5 triumph.