Moscow: Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to the second round of the Kremlin Cup by beating Lesia Tsurenko 7-5, 6-2 on Monday.
The eighth-seeded Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion from Russia, won five consecutive games in the second set and served for the match at love.
“I haven't been playing at the Kremlin Cup for a couple of years,” Kuznetsova said. “But this year I really want to play my best here and that's why I was so nervous at the beginning of the match. And I feel myself much better than a year ago when I really tired of tennis after being on the circuit for 12 years.”
Kuznetsova is looking for her 14th career title. She last won in San Diego in 2010. Her best result in Moscow was a semifinal appearance in 2007.
Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and Alize Cornet of France also won their first-round matches in straight sets.
Stakhovsky upset seventh-seeded Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-3, while Cornet ousted Ukrainian teenager Elina Svitolina 7-5, 6-3.
Stakhovsky won seven consecutive games to rally from 4-1 down in the first set and take a 2-0 lead in the second. He broke Sousa again in the ninth game, sealing the win with a drop shot on his second match point.
“I started a bit nervous and experienced certain problems in the beginning,” Stakhovsky said. “But later in the first set I managed to bring my concentration back and dominated the play for the rest of the match.”
Cornet broke in the 12th game of the first set and took a 4-0 lead in the second.
“I didn't expect to play this level today because I just came back from injury,” Cornet said. “But surprisingly I played really good today. I think I was really solid especially in the most important moments and that's why I won.”
Earlier, top-seeded Angelique Kerber, coming off her third career title in Linz, Austria, on Sunday, withdrew with an abdominal strain.
Richard Gasquet, who is looking for a spot in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals in London for the second straight season, leads the men's field.