Stuttgart - Caroline Garcia has beaten Ana Ivanovic for the third straight time in two months on Tuesday, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix.
Serbia's Ivanovic, the 2014 Stuttgart runner-up who is seeded fifth this time around, saved two set points at 6-5 in the first set, only to waste three set points herself in the tiebreak which Garcia won from 6-3 down with five unanswered points.
The 29th-ranked French Garcia constantly attacked Ivanovic's serve, got the deciding break for 2-1, missed a match points at 5-3 but won on an ace after 1 hour 37 minutes in the next game.
"I knew I had to be aggressive," the 21-year-old winner said. "I had occasions to finish it but didn't take my chances. But I just stayed focused."
The former number one Ivanovic is yet to lift a trophy in 2015 and three of her last four exits have come against the rising Garcia, the others being in Monterrey and Indian Wells in March.
Garcia, who has finals from the Mexican events in Monterrey and Acapulco in what she named "a great start into the year," next plays German wildcard entry Carina Witthoeft.
In other first-round action, the Spanish duo of eight seed Carla Suarez Navarro and Garbine Muguruza overcame some hiccups to advance.
Suarez Navarro beat 92nd-ranked Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 after failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set and squandering a 5-4 lead on her serve in the ensuing tiebreak.
"I started well but she then played very aggressive. I had the opportunity to close out the match but she returned really well. I tried to be more aggressive again in the third set," said Suarez Navarro who now faces local 2011 champion Julia Goerges or Swiss Belinda Bencic.
Muguruza won 6-1, 6-4 against Czech Barbora Strycova. Muguruza dropped two games from 5-2 in the second before clinching victory for a date with Romanian second seed Simona Halep whom she has beaten in both previous meetings.
"Barbora played well. I felt a bit nervous closing it out but in the end I could handle it. At the changeover I told myself 'just continue. Don't worry, you are winning,'" Muguruza said.
In other matches, Czech Lucie Safarova ousted Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (10-8), 6-4; American Madison Brengle won 6-4, 6-4 over Italian lucky loser Alberta Brianti; and Russian lucky loser Marina Melnikova accounted for Croatian qualifier Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-2.
The four top seeds - three-time reigning champion Maria Sharapova of Russia, Halep, Czech Petra Kvitova and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki - have byes into the second round of the tournament boasting eight top 10 players.
Results on Tuesday from the WTA Stuttgart Grand Prix (x denotes seeding):
Marina Melnikova (RUS) bt Petra Martic (CRO) 6-4, 6-2
Carla Suarez (ESP x8) bt Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Barbora Zahlavov Strcov (CZE) 6-1, 6-4
Madison Brengle (USA) bt Alberta Brianti (ITA) 6-4, 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Ana Ivanovic (SRB x5) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4
Lucie Safarova (CZE) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 7-6 (10/8), 6-4