Ana Ivanovic assuaged fears about the state of her right knee, despite admitting she did feel it at times during her unconvincing victory over Sara Errani yesterday. The Serbian, who beat Dinara Safina in last year's final, started poorly in the Paris sunshine but found some form in the second set to take the match 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.
The 21-year-old was forced to withdraw from a recent tournament in Madrid because of the injury and the knee was strapped for the match out on Philippe Chatrier court. "I just put it out of my mind and I don't want to think about it," she said. "Obviously I'm going to feel it here and there - there is still a bit of residue, a feeling of discomfort. "But it's nothing that can stop me from doing what I have to do on court."
Ivanovic was delighted to have been given a good work-out by Errani, the Italian, adding: "I expected a tough match and I worked hard for the points. "I kept my composure even when I was making mistakes. I think this match is going to be a good test for me." Ivanovic, without a title in 2009, has slipped to eighth in the rankings and she began tentatively yesterday and was taken all the way in the first set by a battling Errani, the world No 44.
The Italian served for the set in the 10th game but Ivanovic managed to break. After squandering two set points in the 12th game, she upped the tempo in the tie-break, going 4-1 up and eventually taking it 7-3. Ivanovic, who struggled with her serve throughout, improved slightly in the second set, breaking twice - in the third and fifth games - to race into a 5-1 lead. She had a blip when Errani clawed one break back in the eighth game, but clinched victory in the ninth game.
Ivanovic will now play the Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn or Camille Pin of France in the next round. One player who has been ruled out through injury is Vera Zvonareva, the sixth seed, who will not compete in Paris after failing to recover from an ankle problem. The Russian has not played since tearing ligaments during her second-round match against Virginie Razzano in Charleston last month and had been expected to withdraw.
Zvonareva was one of the form players during the early part of the season, winning titles in Pattaya City and Indian Wells and climbing to No 5 in the world rankings. The 24-year-old's place in the draw has been taken by Britain's Katie O'Brien, who will take on Olga Govortsova in the first round today. Elsewhere on the opening afternoon of action in the French capital, there were wins for seeds Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Na Li.
Russia's Pavlyuchenkova, the 27th seed, beat Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-3 6-2 and China's Li, the 25th seed, ousted Marta Domachowska 6-4 6-2. Mathilde Johansson, one of 19 Frenchwomen in the draw, was reduced to tears in the final stages of her defeat to Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko and in the after-match press conference, after blowing a host of match points to go down 2-6 6-2 10-8 in a marathon encounter.
Diatchenko, a qualifier, could meet new world No 1 Dinara Safina in the second round. Timea Bacsinszky and Julie Coin's were also winners yesterday. * With agencies