Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber reach the third round of Wuhan

Angelique Kerber of Germany hits a return to Madison Keys of the US during their match at the WTA Wuhan Open Tennis Tournament in Wuhan Tuesday. — AFP

Angelique Kerber of Germany hits a return to Madison Keys of the US during their match at the WTA Wuhan Open Tennis Tournament in Wuhan Tuesday. — AFP

Halep discussed injuring her back in a pre-tournament practice session with former Wuhan victor Petra Kvitova, and though the reigning French Open champion got within a game of leveling the match, the 2014 Australian Open finalist proved too strong for the top seed late Tuesday night, advancing after one hour and 24 minutes on court.

"It was tough to play in the beginning because my back was blocked", Halep said after the match.

World No 2 Wozniacki, who received a first-round bye, was barely troubled by 61st-ranked Swede Rebecca Peterson, winning 6-4 6-1.

"It's great to get a good start, obviously".

That attempt at a comeback appeared to drain Peterson of much of her energy, and the second set was a stroll for Wozniacki, who closed out the match 6-1.

Simona Halep will play later today as nine of the world's top ten players are participating at the Wuhan Championship, 250 points are at stake and $2.7m prize money for the victor.

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Angelique Kerber benefited from a knee injury to Madison Keys to advance to the next round. The top seed was a bit more like her sprightly self in the second set after receiving treatment on her back and left thigh, but Cibulkova sealed a round-three meeting with Daria Kasatkina by winning 6-0 7-5. "I pushed myself to play better", Halep said. "It's nice to be in the next round. She's one of the best players in the world, and you have to come out here, enjoy and have fun, and try and play as well as you can", Barty said on-court after the match.

"We will see what's happening at the end of the year".

Halep was the biggest casualty on a day of upsets at the 2018 Wuhan Open, a $2.7-million tournament which features nine of the world's top 10.

Dominika Cibulkova capitalised on a lacklustre performance from Simona Halep to knock the world number one out of the Wuhan Open in the second round.

She next faces Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig from Puerto Rico, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-2. US Open victor Naomi Osaka withdrew with an illness after losing the Pan Pacific Open final on Sunday.

Six spots at the WTA Finals next month remain up for grabs with only Halep and Kerber securing their places so far.

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