In a matchup of former French Open champions, 13th seed Ana Ivanovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3 on Monday in a windy first-round match at the Italian Open.
“It was tough out there today, but it was the same for both of us,” said Ivanovic, who won her only major title at Roland Garros in 2008. “I just tried to move and to adjust, and really tried to look at the ball and move forward. It was difficult at times and the gusts of wind would come out of nowhere, but it was a good match.”
Ivanovic is approaching the top 10 again after a difficult stretch in her career that included four first-round losses at Grand Slams. She attributes part of her turnaround to her coach, Nigel Sears, after they started working together following Wimbledon last year.
“He is very calm and I am a perfectionist, and sometimes I try to do too much at the same time and so he is very reasonable when he comes onto the court ... so this helps me to calm down a lot,” Ivanovic said.
In a night match at the Foro Italico, Francesca Schiavone was defeated in front of her home fans by 39th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-4.
Makarova dictated the play with a series of angled baseline winners, while Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, had trouble finding the range for her highly technical game.
The tournament is the last major clay-court warm-up for the French Open.
Also on Monday, 12th seed Angelique Kerber rallied past Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, and Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden cruised past 2010 champion Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 6-2.
In men’s action, ninth seed John Isner overcame a slow start to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.
The American looked headed for an early exit before Kohl-schreiber lost control when he was serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Isner then broke again in the opening game of the third and cruised from there.
Sixteenth seed Fernando Verdasco eased into the second round when Alexandr Dolgopolov retired with a stomach ache.
Coming off a win over Rafael Nadal in Madrid last week, Verdasco won the first set 6-0. Dolgopolov then called for the trainer and clutched his stomach as he went over to shake Verdasco’s hand to concede.
Twelfth seed Nicolas Almagro defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 13th-seeded Gael Monfils beat Alex Bogomolov Jr of Russia 6-4, 6-1, and Australian teenager Bernard Tomic rallied past Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a meeting with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Others advancing included David Nalbandian of Argentina, Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and Italian wild-card Fabio Fognini.