Beijing, China, 30 September 2017 | Leigh Rogers

Daria Gavrilova is into the China Open second round, overcoming Anett Kontaveit in a hard-fought 7-5 7-5 first round battle.

“It probably wasn’t the prettiest match,” Gavrilova admitted. “Both of us haven’t had a great start in the Asian swing, but I’m really happy I managed to win in the end.

“I didn’t feel like I was playing my best tennis, but sometimes wins like this are really important.”

Australia’s top-ranked female was pushed by her No.34-ranked Estonian opponent, one of the most improved players on tour this season.

Neither player could gain any momentum early, with both struggling to dictate on serve. After Kontaveit opened up a 4-2 lead, Gavrilova responded by reeling off the next three games.

But the world No.22 couldn’t close it out, serving two doubles faults to lose serve to love at 5-4.

Gavrilova’s never-say-die spirit was on show in the 11th game, breaking again to give herself another opportunity to serve for the opening set. It took Gavrilova three set points, and one saved break point, to clinch the 12th game and wrap up the first set 7-5 in exactly one hour.

The momentum swung Kontaveit’s way early in the second set, as she raced to a 3-0 lead. Again Gavrilova was forced to fight – which she dutifully did, levelling at 3-all.

Games continued on serve until the 11th game, where Gavrilova broke to snare a 6-5 lead and opportunity to serve for the match.

Gavrilova’s experience under pressure showed, calming serving out the match after one hour, 52 minutes on court.

“It was pretty tough,” Gavrilova said of dealing with the momentum swings.

“We were both not serving our best and there were a lot of breaks. I just tried to focus on what I had to do. I probably wasn’t that positive today, but I just fought really hard.”

The 23-year-old now faces either No.14-seeded American CoCo Vandeweghe or Croatian Donna Vekic in the second round.