Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki worked overtime at the Qatar Open on Monday to avoid a first-up loss for the third time in her last four tournaments.
Wozniacki, whose ranking has dropped to No. 22, overcame Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
After dropping the first set, Wozniacki seemed in control when she won the second and raced to 5-2 in the third.
But Konjuh went for risky shots and was rewarded with success as she clawed back to 5-5. She went on to save eight match points before finally succumbing.
"A win is a win. I am going to take it and I am happy," Wozniacki said. "It's the first match and you just want to get going. I wasn't hitting it well."
In the second round, she will meet Australia's Daria Gavrilova, who beat Japan's Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-1.
U.S. Open champion Roberta Vinci celebrated her rise into the top 10 by putting away Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1, and Italian compatriot Sara Errani, fresh off winning the Dubai Championships on Saturday, defeated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Another former U.S. Open champ, Svetlana Kuznetsova, beat Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 6-3, while the only upset on the day was 15th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine falling to Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4.
The top eight seeds, led by Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber of Germany, have a bye to the second round.