NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Francesca Schiavone of Italy needed only 79 minutes to beat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, 6-1, 6-2, in the opening first-round match Sunday at the inaugural New Haven Open at Yale.
The WTA tournament that annually precedes the U.S. Open starting next week in New York was formerly called the Pilot Pen before the name change last year.
Schiavone, the No. 3 seed, is looking at this tournament as a warm-up for the year's final Grand Slam that starts next Monday.
"I'm playing better," said Schiavone, the French Open champion last year. "Sometimes I really need to practice, to play as many matches as I can. I want, of course, to arrive at the U.S. Open having played more matches than what I played in tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati.
"That's the reason I'm here."
Schiavone had only two double faults on serve, and she faced just four break points, saving them all.
"I was consistent," said Schiavone, runner-up to Li Na in her unsuccessful title defense at the French Open this year. "Today, I knew what to do on the court. I feel like I've improved a lot to now."
Three-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Li of China, the top two seeds, both received first-round byes. Former top 10 player Daniela Hantuchova, a semifinalist in 2002, withdrew before her first-round match because of a left foot injury.
Wozniacki, world No. 1 for 45 straight weeks, has failed to reach the quarterfinals in five of her last six tournaments.
"Physically, I'm good," said Wozniacki, who recently dropped her father, Piotr, as coach. "I'm happy to be back in New Haven. It brings back good memories and hopefully, I can have a good run here leading up to the (U.S.) Open.
"We'll just have to see. I'm happy to be here and happy to be healthy. I've won 15 matches here and never lost, so I'll try to keep that winning streak going."