Top seed Daria Kasatkina saw off the challenge of home player Qiang Wang as she battled to a victory in three sets at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.
In a match which lasted almost two hours, the Russian world number 10 progressed 6-1 2-6 7-5.
“For sure, (Wang) improved her game so much and always we have big, big matches. We never have, like, the easy one,” Kasatkina said after her victory in the Azalea Group.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Belgium’s Elise Mertens opened her campaign with a confident straight-sets victory over Anett Kontaveit.
The world number 13 is the tournament’s fourth seed, and needed just over an hour to dispatch Estonian Kontaveit 6-3 6-1.
Mertens, debuting in the China event, will next face defending champion Julia Goerges in her other Rose Group round-robin tie – playing against the German for the first time at tour level.
“I’ve got nothing to lose. I don’t have any (ranking) points to defend or anything. I’ll just play freely,” the Belgian said, quoted on the WTA website.
“I’ve had a good year and she’s had a good year. Hopefully it will be a real competitive match.”
Kontaveit, the world number 20, hopes for an improved display in her next match.
“I haven’t played round robin on the WTA level ever, so it’s kind of new,” the 20-year-old said. “Today was not great for me, but it’s good that I get another opportunity tomorrow.”
In the Camellia Group fixture, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, the third seed, beat Australian Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-4.
“I’m so happy with this start, with the win,” the world number 12 said. “Now I just enjoy the tournament, try to improve more and more.”