Playing her first match as the No 1­ranked player in women’s tennis, Angelique Kerber dropped the first set before recovering to beat Kristina Mladenovic 6­-7 (4), 6-­1, 6­-4 on Tuesday to reach the third round of the Wuhan Open.

Kerber replaced Serena Williams atop the rankings with her run to the US Open title, and then took time off before heading to China to start her Asian campaign in Wuhan, where she had a bye in the first round.


The 28­year­old German didn’t face a break point in the second and third sets as she set up a third­round match against two­time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who cruised to a 6-­3, 6­-1 win over Elina Svito­ lina.

Mladenovic “was playing very well today, especially in the first set,” Kerber said. “The first match is always tough. But I’m hap­ py to be back in China and to have won my first match here.”


No 3­seeded Agnieszka Radwanska won eight of the last nine games in a 6-­4, 6-­1 victory over Ekaterina Mak­ arova to notch her first win in three trips to the Wuhan tournament.


Radwanska has had success elsewhere in Asia over the last two seasons, picking up titles in Shenzhen, Tianjin, Tokyo and at the season­ ending WTA championships in Singapore last year.


"I just hope I can play some more great tennis in China,” Radwanska said.


Former US Open finalist Roberta Vinci became the tournament’s first seeded casualty.


Italy’s Vinci, ranked 15, was ousted 7-­5, 6­-2 by Yaro­ slava Shvedova — the second time this year she has lost to the Kazakh.


Venus Williams of the US also made it to the third round after beating Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6­-3, 6-­2 on Tuesday.


In other second­round matches, 8th­seeded Madison Keys had a 6­-3, 6­-4 win over Caroline Garcia, No 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Madison Brengle 6-­0, 6­-4 and Barbora Strycova rallied to beat Misaki Doi 5-­7, 6­-0, 6-­2.


The tournament was hit by a wave of retirements on Monday.


Three players quit mid­ match, taking the tally to five in just two days at the Chinese tournament, which is also missing injured world No 2 Serena Williams.


Britain’s Heather Watson, Anastasija Sevastova of Lat­ via and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all joined the injury list as they retired from their first­round matches.


The late­season tournament also saw five retirements last year — including in the final.