World number two Iga Swiatek overcame a shaky start to beat Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets in the opening match of the WTA Finals in Cancun.
In Monday’s other clash, US Open champion Coco Gauff opened her tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of Tunisian Ons Jabeur.
Polish star Swiatek looked out of sorts in a suffocating first set in which she trailed 2-5 before roaring back to win 7-6 (7/3), 6-0.
The 22-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion is bidding to regain the world number one ranking from Aryna Sabalenka at the season finale in Mexico.
However, that goal looked unlikely during a nervous opening from Swiatek, who was broken on her first serve before seventh-seeded Vondrousova held on for a 2-0 lead.
Swiatek managed to win a break in the fourth game to level the first set at 2-2, but then fell to pieces as Vondrousova broke for a 3-2 lead and then held for 4-2.
Another shaky service game from Swiatek ended in a break of serve leaving Vondrousova in the driver’s seat at 5-2.
But Vondrousova’s game then collapsed and Swiatek went up twice in quick succession to level the set at 5-5 before holding for 6-5.
Although Vodrusova stood on board to hold serve and set up a tie break, it was only a temporary reprieve.
Swiatek quickly took control of the breaker and clinched the set when Vondrousova double-faulted.
Vodrusova’s service game fell into a slump in the second set, with Sviatek breaking her three times in a row.
Another Vondrousova double fault left Swiatek 5-0 up and the Pole sealed victory on her serve in the final game.
“In the first part of the match I didn’t feel like I was playing bad,” Swiatek said.
“I just felt like I was making mistakes on the last few shots in the rally. I felt like there was room for improvement, but I didn’t need to change much. So I tried to be more accurate, not to play risky.”
The 19-year-old Gauff won the first set against Jabeur to win 6-0 in just 23 minutes and then avoided a lengthy rain delay to take the second set 6-1 for a convincing win.
“Ons is a great player, so I felt really shaky the whole match, even though it didn’t look like it,” Gauff said.
“But I’m happy to finally get a win here in this event.”
The WTA Finals sees eight players divided into two groups of four play in a first round robin stage, with the top two in each group advancing to the semi-finals on Saturday
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