Former Roland Garros winner and fifth seed Li Na won a battle with Chinese compatriot Zheng Jie at the WTA Italian Open.
The 31-year-old, who won the French Open in 2011, proved to strong for Jie, coming through 6-3 6-1. She will next face former world No 1 and US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic in the second round.
“It’s always tough to play someone from the same country – we were in the national team together, and we trained and practiced for a long time together,” Li told the WTA official website.
“It’s like being twins on the tour, and it’s tough to fight against each other on the court. But I was really happy I could beat her today [Wednesday].”
Meanwhile, second seed Maria Sharapova continued her excellent clay-court form with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
“She is a rising player from Spain and is playing well, and the conditions were windy out there, but I was able to adjust and win this match,” Sharapova said. “I knew going into the match I needed to be sharp and as quick as possible, and I did a few specific things well out there, and that’s about it.”
The Russian next meets young American Sloane Stephens, who defeated Kiki Bertens 4-6 6-3 6-2 on a good day for the seeds.
The 2010 French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur struggled through her opening set against China’s Peng Shuai, but wasted little time in the second, eventually breezing through 7-6 (7-5) 6-0.
Russian 12th seed Maria Kirilenko beat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-3 6-1.
The 13th-seeded Roberta Vinci kept the home crowd happy as she beat compatriot Natassja Burnett 6-1 6-4 and Slovakian 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova put out US qualifier Melanie Oudin 5-7 6-1 6-3.
Seventh seed Sara Errani, who lost to Sharapova in the French Open final last year, had a tougher time in front of her home fans but eventually came through 7-5 5-7 6-2 against America’s Christina McHale.
“It was a very tough match – it was difficult because she started playing even better at the important moments – but I’m happy I could stay there in the third and win the match,” Errani said.
“It’s very special to be here. The crowds are so good and there are a lot of people supporting me. Sometimes it’s not easy because there’s also a lot of pressure, but it’s okay. It’s very special to play here anyway.”