Doha - Former No 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic eased into the second round of the Qatar Open with straight-set victories on Monday.
The 10th-ranked Wozniacki beat qualifier Mervana Jugic-Salkic of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-1, 6-2, while the 13th-ranked Ivanovic beat Tamira Paszek 6-1, 6-2.
Wozniacki had a poor start, losing her serve in the first game. But the Dane broke right back and then cruised from there, wrapping up the win in just over an hour.
Coming off a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open to Svetlana Kuznetsova, Wozniacki said she felt comfortable on the court against an opponent she had never faced.
"It's tough to play a first match and tough to play an opponent you haven't played before," Wozniacki said. "I just tried to focus on my own game and felt like I served well, returned well. I was happy."
Wozniacki's father, Piotr, was courtside during the match, counselling her at one point. He returned to the role of sole coach after the US Open and the 22-year-old Dane said she felt she "needed the calmness" that comes with depending on her inner circle. She fired coach Ricardo Sanchez a year ago after just two months on the job.
"It felt like I needed just people around me that have always been there. That's the most important thing for me, that I don't start feeling unsure," she said. "I have done so many great results, and I have been where I wanted to be. The main thing is that I have always had the people around me that I trust and a good team around me and people who know me very well. That was the choice I had to make again."
Ivanovic broke the 26th-ranked Paszek twice in the first set, then saved three break points to go up 4-2 in the second. She broke Paszek again to make it 5-2 and sealed the victory when the Austrian hit a return long. Still nursing a sore right shoulder that kept her out of Serbia's Fed Cup loss to Slovakia, Ivanovic overpowered Paszek with her serve and benefited from the Austrian's five double faults.
"I actually expected a very tough match. We had some battles in the past, but I really started well and I was aggressive," Ivanovic said. "I felt like I was doing like lot of damage with my forehand, so I tried to keep that game plan."
Ivanovic has had an inconsistent start to the season, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open but losing in the first round of the Pattaya Open in Thailand. Still, the 25-year-old Serb said she feels her game is improving and she can challenge the world's top players - many of which are in the Doha tournament.
"I definitely feel my game is coming to the point where I can challenge these top players," she said. "That's exciting, because if it wasn't like that I wouldn't be here. I really want to get myself in a position to play against these top players, because only playing them time and time again you can break through eventually and finally win."
Results from the first day of the WTA Qatar Open on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-4.
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x10) bt Mervana Jugic-Salkic (BIH) 6-1, 6-2
Simona Halep (ROM) bt Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-1, 6-0
Ana Ivanovic (SRB x13) bt Tamira Paszek (AUT) 6-1, 6-2
Mona Barthel (GER) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-4, 6-2
Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) bt Zheng Jie (CHN) 6-2, 6-3
Daria Gavrilova (RUS) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Fatma Al Nabhani (OMA) 6-2, 6-3