Serb sees off late challenge from Italian and will be joined by Agnieszka Radwanska into second round of Dubai Tennis Championships.
Ana Ivanovic passes Francesca Schiavone test
Ivanovic prevailed in an hour and 41 minutes - in a match between two former French Open champions – racing through the opening set before winning 6-1, 7-5.
Schiavone, who has slipped out of the world's top 10, struggled in the first set, but recovered in the set breaking back to make it 5-5. But the Serb held her cool to win the last two games to secure a win.
Meanwhile, Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to the second round on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-7, 7-5 victory over the qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada.
The No 5 seed swept the first five games of the match and won 65 per cent of the points to take the opening set in just 27 minutes.
But Wozniak, who is attempting to re-establish herself on the WTA Tour after suffering an arm injury that dropped her out of the Top 100, began to compete far better and took her favoured opponent to the verge of defeat.
She twice made Radwanska play catch-up in the second set, breaking to lead 2-0 and 4-2, but Radwanska levelled each time and then broke Wozniak again to leave her serving for the match.
But Wozniak still refused to capitulate, broke Radwanska's serve, and went on to take the tie-break on her third set point.
In the final set, Wozniak broke to lead 3-2 but she then also failed to serve out the match at 5-4, allowing Radwanska to level at 5-5, hold for 6-5 and break once again for victory.
"The first match is always the toughest. Different conditions, different court, and different balls," said Radwanska after her two-hour, 32-minute victory.
"I think she was just running very good and moving very well and being very consistent in the second and third sets. I'm just very happy that I could come back in the third set and win."
There was disappointment for Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday but delight for the qualifier Iveta Benesova, when a pulled hamstring forced Cibulkova to retire from their match with Benesova leading 3-1. "It is disappointing that Dominika Cibulkova was unable to finish her match," said the tournament director Salah Tahlak. "She is always an exciting player to watch and has been in good form recently, winning her first career title just a few months ago in Moscow. We wish her a speedy recovery."
Maria Kirilenko was also forced to withdraw from her doubles partnership with Sabine Lisicki after suffering a neck injury, but is set to play in the second round of the singles on Wednesday, organisers said.
Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion, Li Na, the French Open winner, and Vera Zvonareva withdrew because of illness or injury on Monday.
Caroline Wozniacki will open the defence of her title on Wednesday when she meets Simona Halep of Romania in the second round.
Halep advanced on Tuesday by defeating Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2.
Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic also advanced with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Croatia's Petra Martic 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Safarova will meet the US Open champion Samantha Stosur in the second round.
Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, is the top-seeded player in Dubai and the top-ranked Belarusian will meet Julia Goerges of Germany in her opening match on Wednesday.