Madrid - Australian Open champion Li Na has avoided a repeat of her shock first round exit at the Madrid Open last year with a 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win over Belgian Kirsten Flipkens on Monday.
The world number two raced through the opening set, but was forced to save two set points in the second before closing out the match in a tie-break.
"I knew it would never be an easy match and even when I won the first set, she was really fighting a lot in the second," said the Chinese star.
Next up for Li is a meeting with compatriot Jie Zheng in round two.
"We are from the same country, we know each other well so I'm sure it will be tough," she added.
Number three seed Agnieszka Radwanska also sealed her place in the last 32 with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 win over Australian Open semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
The Canadian put up a strong fight in a tightly contested opening set, but Radwanska's variety of shot-making allowed her to comfortably take the tie-break.
"Of course I think the tiebreak was the biggest key in that match," admitted Radwanska.
"I made a couple good shots in the tiebreak and managed to win that. I think that gave me more confidence in the second set and it was a little bit easier."
The Pole took complete control in the second with an early double break and served the match out to set up a second round clash with Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia became the first seed to fall on Monday, as she was comprehensively beaten 6-3, 6-0 by 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur of Australia.
It was smooth sailing for the seeds on the men's side as Kei Nishikori, John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all secured their passage into round two.
Japan's Nishikori kept his recent fine form going after winning the Barcelona Open last week with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Croatian Ivan Dodig to set up a meeting with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round.
Ninth seed Isner was characteristically solid on serve as the American wasn't broken in his 7-6, (10/8), 6-4 win over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Tsonga faced a stiffer test against fellow Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but also came through in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
Results from the third day of the combined ATP Madrid Masters and WTA Madrid Open on Monday (x denotes seeded player):
Kei Nishikori (JPN x10) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-4, 6-4
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-3, 6-2
Marius Copil (ROM) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-3, 6-4
Jo-Wilfried Tsgona (FRA x11) bt Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
John Isner (USA x9) bt Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 7-6 (10/8), 6-4
Dominic Thiem (AUT) bt Dimitry Tursonov (RUS) 6-4, 6-2
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-2, 6-2
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x15) bt Benjamin Becker (GER) 6-3, 6-4
Albert Ramos (ESP) bt Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-1, 7-6 (9/7)
Giles Simon (FRA) bt Benoi Paire (FRA) 2-0 - retired
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)
Li Na (CHN x2) bt Kirsten Flipkins (BEL) 6-1, 7-6 (9/7)
Samantha Stosur (AUS) bt Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x9) 6-4, 6-0
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x3) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 7-6 (7/3), 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Irina-Carmelia Begu (ROM) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-4, 7-5
Sabine Lisicki (GER x15) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
Simona Halep (ROM x4) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 6-2, 6-0