Cincinnati: Jelena Jankovic and Kim Clijsters are looking for strong performances here this week to give them a boost as the US Open, final Grand Slam of the season, looms at the end of the month.
Jankovic, the world number two and defending champion, is the top seed while Clijsters is seeded fourth in the two million-dollar WTA hardcourt tournament that started on Monday.
Jankovic is coming off a first-round loss in San Diego, her first match since injuring her left ankle in the second round of a tournament in Slovenia in mid-July.
"My ankle`s OK," said Jankovic, who also had to retire from her fourth-round match at Wimbledon with lower back problems.
"I`ve been able to practice the last couple of days. Now, it`s feeling good. I`m looking forward to getting back to playing."
The former number one, who enjoyed a first-round bye, is scheduled to play qualifier Vera Dushevina in the second round.
Dushevina advanced in straight sets, beating Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).
Jankovic`s compatriot Ana Ivanovic lost the first set and trailed 2-4 in the second but rallied to beat ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2.
Buoyed by her victory in the second-set tiebreaker, Ivanovic broke Azarenka in the opening game of the third and rolled from there.
She sealed the victory with a successful challenge on match point.
Clijsters, the defending US Open champion, also had a first-round bye.
The Belgian is slated to meet No. 35 Dinara Safina in a second-round rematch of last year`s quarter-final.
Safina, who beat Clijsters in straight sets here last year, advanced with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Roberta Vinci.
Clijsters hasn`t played a tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, although she has played World Team Tennis and doubles.
"It`s been a while," she said. "I`m looking forward to playing a match. It doesn`t matter who I play."
In other first-round matches, qualifier Bojana Jovanovski rallied to upset 14th-seeded Aravane Rezai 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The first-round loss was the second straight for Rezai, who also fell in the first round at San Diego.
Jovanovski, ranked 98th, will meet Akgul Amanmuradova in the second round. Amanmuradova cruised past Kimiko Date Krumm 6-1, 6-2 in a clash of qualifiers.
Shahar Peer became the first seeded player to advance with a win when Olga Govortsova retired with Peer leading 6-3, 4-1.
Peer will meet Nuria Llagostera Vives, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Vania King.
Sara Errani moved on with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jamie Hampton.
Sixteenth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France followed Peer into the second round, dismissing Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 6-0.
Bartoli will face Alona Bondarenko in the second round. Bondarenko rallied for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova.