Playing her first match since winning the US Open last month, Gauff overcame Russia’s Alexandrova 7-5 6-3 in Beijing on Monday, though she later admitted that she wasn’t at her “best level.”
The 19-year-old American raced into a 4-0 lead before Alexandrova responded with two breaks of serve to level the first set. Gauff, however, held her nerve and took the opening set with a superb backhand winner.
The second set was more straightforward for Gauff as she held her serve throughout, getting the crucial break with a crosscourt forehand at 3-2.
She wrapped up the contest – her 13th win in a row – in an hour and 22 minutes when Alexandrova slammed a forehand into the net.
Gauff, who rose to No. 3 in the rankings after defeating Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open final three weeks ago, will now face Croatia’s Petra Martić in the second round.
“Overall I’m happy with how I was able to push through,” said Gauff, who lost against Alexandrova in Berlin in June.
“Is it how I like to play? Probably not. But I knew coming in was going to be tough, just coming from across the world. This is the first time here. I knew it was going to be a tough match for me regardless.”