Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1 on Sunday to begin play at the New Haven Open.
The match was the first in the main draw. The top seeded players were due to take to the courts yesterday and today.
Lisicki, from Germany, lost a 2-0 lead in the first set, but never trailed against the Frenchwoman and won the first five games of the second set, which was interrupted by a brief rain delay.
Lisicki was little known before Wimbledon, where she lost to Marion Bartoli in the final, but is one of the bigger names in this tournament.
“It’s been quite a change, going home and everyone on the streets knows who you are,” she said, “It is something different, but it’s been nice, because it shows that the hard work pays off.”
Just four of the top-10 players in the world are participating in the final women’s tuneup before the US Open.
Top-seeded Sara Errani is joined by Angelique Kerber, defending champion Petra Kvitova, and Caroline Wozniacki, who is looking for her fifth New Haven title in six years.
Bartoli would have been the fifth, but withdrew after announcing her retirement last week.
Former world No. 1 Wozniacki was in danger of falling out of the WTA’s top 10 before making it to the quarter-finals last week in Cincinnati.
Now, she’s hoping to build on that momentum in Connecticut, where she is 20-1. The lone loss came when she was forced to withdraw from last year’s semi-finals with a knee injury.
“I feel like I’m on the right track and I feel like I’m playing well, so right now that’s what I’m thinking about,” she said on Sunday.
“The US Open is coming up as well, which is a tournament that I am looking very much forward to. I love it there. So, these two tournaments, hopefully, will be good for me,” she said.
Wozniacki, the fourth seed this year, was due to open play yesterday against Peng Shuai of China.
She said that Bartoli’s retirement due to nagging injuries points to just how careful players need to be when putting together what can be a grueling tour schedule.
“That’s why you need really good recovery. You need good treatments and do a lot of fitness, because you need to protect your body from all that hammering that it gets,” the Dane said.
“I always laugh about it now, because the day I wake up and nothing hurts, I should be a little bit scared because it might mean that I’m dead,” Wozniacki said.
In the first round of the doubles Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Klara Zakopalova beat Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Janette Husarova of Slovakia, 6-2, 6-2.
Additional reporting by staff writer