With the WTA professional circuit is heading to the end of the 2017 season. The calendar has one last big event in Beijing at the China Open. Also the last Premier Mandatory event of the season, this one has been filled up to its capacity in terms of top-players getting involved in it. Maria Sharapova received another wild-card to get access into the main draw and so far, she seems on track to do something special in Bejing. A deep run would help her to dig deep into the top 100 securing her a spot in the main draw of the 2018 Australian Open. Currently ranked 104th in the world, Sharapova is trying to capture her first WTA title since she made her comeback earlier this year in April.

Sharapova being tested hard by fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova

The first round in Beijing saw Maria Sharapova slipping past Anastasija Sevastova, the 16th seed. It was a three-set thrilling battle that put Sharapova in a dangerous position. Saving a match point was part of the dramatic encounter. The second round brought Ekaterina Makarova, a highly experienced player who can produce damage. Winning the inaugural set was not enough as Makarova bounced back to level up the score sheet. The third act saw a deflated Makarova unable to sustain the same level of intensity. Sharapova raced past her to clinch the match. Now, in head to head stats Sharapova leads Makarova by 8-0.

Simona Halpe took advantage of an injured Rybarikova

Now ranked 28th in the world, Magdalena Rybarikova returned to form earlier this year in what was a tremendous run with her reaching the semis at Wimbledon. Since then, she has been struggling to replicate a similar result. In today's match, she had no chance over Simona Halep.

After losing the inaugural set by 6-1, Rybarikova was forced to withdraw due to illness. It's an easy win for the highest seed let in the contest after a gruelling battle in the inaugural round over Alison Riske (53 WTA).

The third round will put Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep face to face for the eighth time. The 30-year-old Russian won all the previous meetings with the latest one occurring a month ago at Flushing Meadows in New York.

In fact, it feels like the 2017 US Open all over again, at least for Sharapova. She had to deal with Sevastova in the first round and now it's Halep's turn to test her. Moreover, it's their second meeting in Beijing. Sharapova got past Halep in the round of 64 in Beijing five years ago.

For the 26-year-old Romanian tennis star the shadow of the world No. 1 seat is on the rise again. With Muguruza out of the contest, she could clinch that elusive slot by the end of the week.