French No. 1 Marion Bartoli is aiming to go one step further at this week’s Paris Open in her quest for a maiden title on home soil.
Bartoli was defeated by Angelique Kerber in last year’s final — a result that served as a catalyst for the German’s breakthrough campaign last year.
However, even with Kerber not defending her crown this year, Bartoli, who won the last of her seven WTA titles in Osaka, Japan, in October 2011, was guarded in her expectations.
“I don’t know if it’s a good year or not, it’s a loaded draw. There are still two other top 10 [women] in the field and lots of dangerous players,” she said.
“There is a long way to go before thinking about winning,” added Bartoli, the tournament’s third seed.
The world No. 10, who suffered a disappointing third-round exit against Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova at this month’s Australian Open, said the Grand Slam tournaments remained the focal points of her season, but that success in the French capital also rated highly among her priorities.
“I want to base my season around the Grand Slam tournaments with the hope of getting closer to the top five in the world, but above all, I would really like to win the title here because I want to play well in France,” she said.
Bartoli, who has a first-round bye, will face American Christina McHale, who beat fellow Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier in her opening match 6-4, 6-1.
Meanwhile, the event’s top seed Sara Errani of Italy will be seeking to ignite her campaign this year after crashing out at the first hurdle in Melbourne.
The world’s seventh ranked player, a finalist at last year’s French Open, faces a qualifier in her first match.
The 2011 champion Petra Kvitova is the tournament’s second seed.
The 22-year-old Czech has achieved middling success since her maiden Wimbledon crown two years ago, a second-round defeat in Australia to Britain’s Laura Robson two weeks ago offering an insight into her inconsistency of late.
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams — a winner at the Paris Open 11 years ago — was a late withdrawal from the competition due to a back injury, with 2010 Roland Garros queen Francesca Schiavone handed a wild-card entry as a replacement.
On Monday, advancing with McHale, eighth seed Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic came from a set behind to oust Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, while Mona Barthel of Germany beat Poland’s Urszula Radwanska 7-6 (7/1), 6-0 in her first-round match.