Tennis: Roberta Vinci downs Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig in first round of Wuhan Open

Roberta Vinci celebrates her victory over Olympic tennis women's singles gold medallist Monica Puig in the first round of the WTA Wuhan Open in China on Sunday.
Roberta Vinci celebrates her victory over Olympic tennis women's singles gold medallist Monica Puig in the first round of the WTA Wuhan Open in China on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP

WUHAN (AFP) - Roberta Vinci downed Olympic tennis women's singles gold medallist Monica Puig in the first round of the WTA Wuhan Open in China on Sunday.

The Italian took just one hour and 20 minutes to defeat the Puerto Rican in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.

Vinci, last year's US Open finalist who halted Serena Williams' bid for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam, served eight aces en route to the second round of the US$2.6 million (S$3.5 million) hard-court event.

Puig had a fairy-tale run at the Rio Olympics, bringing her island its first-ever gold medal and taking her to a career-high ranking of 33.

She then fell in the first round of the US Open, but made it to the quarter-finals in Tokyo last week, eventually losing to world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska.

"It was a tough first round. I didn't necessarily play my best tennis," Puig told reporters after the Wuhan match.

"It's kind of hard when you have to focus on other things, other tournaments, and everybody keeps bringing you back to Rio," the 22-year-old added.

American qualifier Louisa Chirico was handed a pass to the second round after US Open quarter-finalist Timea Bacsinszky became ill and retired in the second set.

Teenager Belinda Bencic also pulled out in the second set with a lower back problem, allowing world No. 10 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia through to face either Briton Heather Watson or Madison Brengle of the US.