Heavy Italian crowd favorite Francesca Schiavone came up a first-round upset victim, while former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was an easy winner Monday at the $2.168 million Italian Open tennis event, a clay-court French Open tune-up.
Russian Ekaterina Makarova cruised past the 10th-seeded Schiavone 6-3, 6-4 in 77 minutes. The struggling Schiavone was last year's French Open runner-up and captured the title at Roland Garros in 2010.
The 13th-seeded Ivanovic, of Serbia, doused two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3 in a battle of former French Open champs amid winy conditions on the red clay at Foro Italico. The fading Russian Kuznetsova was the Rome runner-up in 2007 and 2009.
"It was tough out there today but it was the same for both of us," Ivanovic said. "I just tried to move and to adjust and really tried to look at the ball and move forward. It was difficult at times and the gusts of wind would come out of nowhere, but it was a good match."
Rising 12th-seeded German Angelique Kerber moved on with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 come- from-behind victory over Aussie qualifier Anastasia Rodionova, while another quality German, Julia Goerges, was a hard-fought 6-1, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3 victor against Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak.
Americans Christina McHale and Vania King reached the second round, as the promising McHale topped Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-4, while King clobbered Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-1. McHale's next opponent will be second-ranked recent Stuttgart champion Maria Sharapova, who is also the reigning Rome champ. The Aussie Open and Wimbledon runner-up Sharapova beat U.S. Open winner Samantha Stosur in last year's Rome finale.
The former No. 1 Sharapova and McHale will battle on Tuesday.
Other Monday winners were Israeli Shahar Peer, Swede Sofia Arvidsson, South African Chanelle Scheepers, Czech Iveta Benesova, Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Arvidsson whipped surprise 2010 Rome champion Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, of Spain, 6-3, 6-2 on Day 1. Peer is rewarded with a second-round match against current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who was last week's Madrid runner-up to Serena Williams, this week's ninth seed.
The 2002 Rome titlist Williams will open her 2012 stay here with a second- round bout against Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva on Tuesday. The 13-time major champ enjoyed an opening-round bye this week.
Also on Tuesday, fourth-seeded Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will take on Pavlyuchenkova in the round of 32.
The last Italian woman to title in Rome was Raffaella Reggi back in 1985.
The 2012 Rome titlist will collect $385,000.