Auckland: Top-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany beat French wild-card entry Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-4 Monday in the first round of the ASB Classic.
The 22-year-old Lisicki, who lifted her world ranking from 218 to 15 in 2011 as she recovered from an ankle injury, struggled to assert her powerful service game before beating Razzano in 85 minutes.
"It`s always tough to play the first match of the season," Lisicki said. "I was struggling a little with my serve but that means there is still a bit to work on and improve which is a good thing."
Lisicki gained control of the first set with an early service break and rallied from a break down to win the second set in 41 minutes.
Former world No. 4 Jelena Dokic suffered a setback in her preparation for the Australian Open when she was beaten 7-6 (5), 6-1 by unseeded Mona Barthel, who faces compatriot Lisicki in the second round.
"I`ve never played her but I think it will be a great match for me," Barthel said.
Barthel, ranked 69, squandered several set points before taking the first set in 59 minutes from 67th-ranked Dokic who made 32 unforced errors. She broke Dokic in the opening game of the second set, dropped serve then reeled off five straight games to take the set in 31 minutes in a match that finished just after midnight.
"It was very difficult, it`s very late but I`m just happy with the way I played," Barthel said.
In other matches, fourth-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 7-6 (5) and Sara Errani of Italy defeated Johanna Larsson of Sweden 6-1, 6-1.
Christina McHale of the United States beat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-2, 6-3 and Britain`s Elena Baltacha defeated Sacha Jones of New Zealand 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.