Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic started her season with a 6-4, 6-2 win yesterday over Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Brisbane International.
Ivanovic, who reached the Australian Open final last season and had the No. 1 ranking for part of the year after winning the French Open, set up triple match-point on Kvitova’s serve and clinched it with a forehand winner.
The 21-year-old Serb will next play Italy’s Roberta Vinci, who beat Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld 0-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Ivanovic needed an hour to take the first set, with Kvitova frequently pouncing on her second serve, and also got the benefit of an overrule at 4-4 that gave her momentum.
She held that game and then broke Kvitova’s serve to take the set. Ivanovic was more convincing in the second, dropping serve once, but breaking Kvitova’s serve three times.
At the end, she waved and blew kisses to the vocal, pro-Serbian crowd.
Amelie Mauresmo, whose ranking has slipped to No. 24 from a high of No. 1 in 2006 when she won two Grand Slam titles, fended off two set points in the first before beating Australia’s Jelena Dokic 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5).
Mauresmo has been working with new coach Hugo Lecoq since failing to finish in the top 20 last year for the first time in a decade.
She said her serve was improved, but she’d had mixed success putting minor technique and tactical changes into play.
“It was a tough first match — she was playing some good tennis and gave me a bit of trouble,” Mauresmo said.”
Dokic, who has fallen to 177th after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2002, is making another attempted comeback to the top level and relied on a wild-card entry for Brisbane.
Three seeded players were knocked out of the women’s draw.
Italy’s Sara Errani beat fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 6-0; Olga Govortsova of Belarus ousted No. 8 Francesca Schiavone of Italy 7-5, 6-2 and Australian Samantha Stosur beat No. 9 Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-2, 6-3.
On the men’s side, Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen advanced 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 over an ailing Marcos Baghdatis.
Baghdatis, a Greek Cypriot who earned a big following in Australia when he reached the Australian Open final in 2006, needed treatment on his left hamstring in the second set.
Eighth-seeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic beat Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-2, 6-2 and Austria’s Jurgen Melzer beat American Mardy Fish 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion, is scheduled to play Ernests Gulbis of Latvia today.