BEIJING (AP) - Maria Sharapova beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 7-6 (5) on Sunday to advance to the second round of the China Open.
The 12th-seeded Sharapova bounced back after losing in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open last Monday.
``I faced a tough opponent today,'' Sharapova said. ``At the end of the day I found a way to win, and that was the most important thing.''
Caroline Wozniacki was set to begin her bid to become the top-ranked player in the world. She arrived in Beijing fresh from winning last week's tournament in Tokyo, and if she reaches the quarterfinals in Beijing, the Dane will take over the No. 1 ranking from Serena Williams.
Wozniacki's path in the $4.5 million tournament has been eased by the withdrawal of Serena and her sister Venus because of injuries. Ailing U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters also has pulled out. And defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and fourth-seeded Sam Stosur both lost Sunday.
Kuznetsova was beaten 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 by Italian Roberta Vinci, and Stosur lost 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 to Latvian qualifier Anastasija Sevastova.
Fifth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia advanced with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Czech Klara Zakopalova, as did local favorite Li Na with an easy 6-2, 6-0 win over Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.
The main draw of the men's side of the China Open starts Monday, with No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia defending his title. Andy Murray of Britain, Sweden's Robin Soderling and Nikolay Davydenko of Russia also are competing.