10/9/2018 8:42:28 PM

Muguruza puts celebrations on hold to focus on rescuing season

Muguruza puts celebrations on hold to focus on rescuing season

Hong Kong, China: Former world number one Garbine Muguruza said she had put her birthday celebrations on hold as she battles to rescue a disappointing season by winning the WTA Hong Kong Open.

Muguruza, who has slumped from top of the rankings in 2017 to world number 13, turned 25 Monday but said celebrations had been low key the night before her first round clash with fellow Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

"It was a very simple celebration, we went to dinner with the team, but honestly, if you're competing the next day it's very hard to think about something else," she said.

"I'm sure I will have more time after here to do something more fun."

Muguruza cruised through 6-3, 6-1 but insisted the clash had not been plain sailing. 

"It's not easy to play a Spanish player -- because I know her -- but I'm happy I'm in the second round."

The former French Open and Wimbledon champion, who enjoys playing at the net, added: "(Sorribes Tormo) is very talented so she managed to put me in trouble and give me difficult balls, so I think it was very competitive."

Muguruza will be joined in the second round by top seed Elina Svitolina, the world number five, who was relieved to get past big-serving Australian Priscilla Hon in straight sets in the late match. 

The Ukrainian is still in the hunt for WTA Finals Singapore and admitted feeling the "pressure" as the tournament favourite. 

Earlier Tuesday Chinese number one Wang Qiang, currently enjoying the hottest streak of her career, cruised to a straightforward 6-0, 6-2 victory over Hong Kong's Zhang Ling.

After her latest win Wang -- who is even being touted as a potential successor to double Grand Slam champion and China tennis icon Li Na -- said she was playing the best tennis of her career, adding she felt more "confidence" on court.

Japan's Nao Hibino, ranked 125 in the world, bundled out 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur in straight sets. The Australian, who is still ranked 69, went down 3-6, 3-6.

Meanwhile Australia's Daria Gavrilova backed Roger Federer after the Swiss great warned temperamental tennis star Nick Kyrgios he needed to work harder to realise his potential.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion offered the tough love to Kyrgios after the 23-year-old made yet another contentious exit from the Shanghai Masters on Monday.

Federer described Kyrgios as "a great player" but added he needed to develop a work ethic to go with his talent.

Gavrilova, the second-ranked Australian woman, said: "I'm pretty sure Roger is spot on."

She added: "(Kyrgios) is definitely one of the most talented players out there and I love watching him.

"I don't know what happened in Shanghai but ... hopefully he can make a breakthrough and win a few slams."

The Russian-born Aussie, back at the Hong Kong Open after losing last year's typhoon-delayed final, added of her compatriot: "He's different, he plays different and I guess when you come to watch him you never know what's going to happen."

Gavrilova, the world number 34 who is seeded seventh at the Hong Kong Open, booked her place in the second round after a fiery three-set victory over the Kazakh Zarina Diyas.

The Australian queried a number of debatable line calls, at one point channelling her inner John McEnroe as she yelled at the chair umpire: "You can't be serious!"

Despite last year's final ending in the early hours in front of just a handful of bedraggled spectators, she insisted she has good memories of the tournament.

"I love coming back here," she smiled.

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