HONG KONG: In-form Caroline Wozniacki started the defence of her WTA Hong Kong Open title in rampant style by blowing away Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday (Oct 10).
Wozniacki, seeded three and a recent winner of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, dominated the first-round match as Bouchard was forced into a cascade of errors.
Wozniacki never looked remotely in trouble against the former golden girl of tennis, breaking her serve almost at will, and cruising to victory in only 58 minutes.
"It was a great start," Wozniacki told reporters.
"I feel like I played pretty well, tried to stay aggressive and tried to make her feel pressured and it worked," added the world number six.
"She never gave me a chance tonight," said a crestfallen Bouchard.
For the Canadian, once the poster girl for the future of women's tennis, it was another chastening defeat as the 23-year-old rides the crest of the biggest slump of her young career.
It seems a world away from Bouchard's breakthrough season of 2014 when her easy-going personality and media friendly appearances were lapped up after she made the Wimbledon final and semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens while soaring to fourth in the world.
Three years on, her career is in freefall and she languishes at 78th having had just one run to a quarter-final in 2017, on the Madrid clay in early May.
Since a second-round exit at the French Open at the end of May, she has won just two matches on tour and it was easy to see why as she crumbled again.
"I really don't want to look back at previous years," said a disappointed Bouchard. "I need to look forward and try to get better than I am now."
Second seed Venus Williams raced through her opening match 6-2, 6-2 against Japan's Risa Ozaki in just 74 minutes.
It was an ideal way for Williams to shake off any rust in her first outing since losing to Sloane Stephens in the US Open semi-final a month ago.
Williams punctuated the performance with some trademark power winners and sent down seven aces to overwhelm the world number 95.
"Four weeks goes by pretty fast and the first match is never perfect," said Williams, who dropped her own serve twice.
"It was a hard-fought match despite the score and it was a great way to start."
Williams, 37 but seemingly ageless, has enjoyed a magnificent season, reaching two Grand Slam finals to qualify for the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore for the first time since 2009.
The second seed faces another Japanese opponent in Naomi Osaka in the second round after she overcame Chilean qualifier Alexa Guarachi 7-5, 6-4.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland swept past local wildcard Zhang Ling 6-1, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with former US Open champion Sam Stosur.
"I've known Sam for many years, although we didn't play for a while. I think it's going to be a really good match," Radwanska said.
Number one seed Elina Svitolina came through a tough examination against Zarina Dyas, eventually triumphing 6-4, 7-6 in one hour and 43 minutes.
The Ukrainian world number four trailed 3-0 to the player from Kazakhstan before reeling off five games in a row with a succession of forehand winners and closing out the first set 6-4.
Sporting a heavily strapped left thigh, Svitolina twice failed to serve out for the match in the second set at 5-4 and 6-5 before securing the tiebreak.
Fifth seed Elena Vesnina of Russia suffered the only upset of the first round when she was stunned 6-3, 6-4 by Thailand's world number 130 Luksika Kumkhum.
Women's first round:
Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2)
Jennifer Brady (USA) bt Misa Eguchi (JPN) 6-3, 6-0
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 6-1, 6-1
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) bt Miyu Kato (JPN) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4)
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-3, 6-4
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) bt Zhang Ling (HKG) 6-1, 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Timea Babos (HUN) 6-4, 6-4
Jacqueline Cako (USA) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5)
Naomi Osaka (JPN) bt Alexa Guarachi (CHI) 7-5, 6-4
Venus Williams (USA) bt Risa Ozaki (JPN) 6-2, 6-2