(Updates after Hingis defeat)
By Nick Mulvenney
BEIJING, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Amelie Mauresmo made an unspectacular return to tennis after a two-month layoff with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Romania’s Ioana Raluca Olaru at the China Open on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old Frenchwoman, who had not played since mid-July in a bid to recapture her desire for the game, next faces a quarter-final against China’s Peng Shuai, who delighted the home crowd by upsetting fifth seed Martina Hingis 7-5 6-1.
With top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova withdrawing from the tournament because of an abdominal injury, third seed Mauresmo should be a strong contender to reach a second successive final here.
“I thought it was an okay match,” said Mauresmo, who lost to Kuznetsova in last year’s final.
“It was definitely not the best tennis I’ve ever played but considering I have had a couple of months off -- and a month-and-a-half without touching a racket -- I‘m just glad to come out of the court a winner today.”
Peng, who reached the semi-finals here last year, is China’s best hope of home success in the absence of injured compatriots Li Na and Zheng Jie.
The 21-year-old, who belied her petite stature with some fierce groundstrokes, won a cagey first set against the five-times major winner when she summoned up a superb crosscourt winner.
“She played really well today and made very few unforced errors,” said Swiss Hingis, 18th in the world.
“We both played high-quality tennis in the first set but it was hard to keep up the intensity in the second.”
A backhand pass of similarly high quality put Peng a break up early in the second set and from then on Hingis was only able to offer token resistance before making an early exit from her first tournament in China.
“I was nervous at the beginning,” a delighted Peng said. “I’ve never played Mauresmo before, I guess she runs fast.”
Lindsay Davenport, who returned after a year out of the game last week, was in intimidating form in dismissing compatriot Julie Ditty 6-0 6-2 in her first-round tie.
A former world number one like Hingis and Mauresmo, Davenport retired after last year’s China Open but stormed back with a tournament victory in Bali last weekend, just three months after giving birth to her son Jagger.
“I‘m happy that my first match was quite easy so that I have a rest,” Davenport said. “I did feel tired after flying here from Bali.”
Sixth seed Agnes Szavay of Hungary beat Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-6 6-4 to set up a last-eight meeting with Maria Emilia Salerni of Argentina, who made the most of her call-up to replace Kuznetsova by beating American qualifier Abigail Spears 6-2 7-5.