SYDNEY: Former champion Li Na headed a winning start to the Sydney International for Asian players with a straight sets victory over American Christina McHale on Monday.
But it wasn't plain sailing for the Chinese fourth seed who came from an early break down to win 7-6 (7/2) 7-5 in two hours to set up a second round meeting with Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita.
Morita fought back after dropping the opening set to oust Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Li, who won the Shenzhen Open title last week, had her breakthrough year in 2011 where she won in Sydney before reaching the Australian Open final and going on to win the French Open.
Japanese qualifier Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 42 the oldest singles player on the WTA Tour, knocked Australian Casey Dellacqua out of the Sydney tournament, 6-4, 6-1.
Elsewhere, Italian third seed Sara Errani progressed to the second round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-3.
Errani will now take on Russian starlet Maria Kirilenko, a 7-5, 6-2 first-round winner over Australian Olivia Rogowska on Sunday.
Former world number one Jelena Jankovic eliminated Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) and will play Italian Roberta Vinci for a quarter-final berth.
Vinci upset Russian eighth seed Nadia Petrova 7-5 7-5.
In the men's tournament, Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers defeated Australian Matthew Ebden 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 while Australian James Duckworth blew an early break in the deciding set against Uzbek Denis Istomin before going out 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
German fifth seed Florian Mayer ousted Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-2.