France's Marion Bartoli wanted to get some extra work in before the US Open and the New Haven Open seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The 26-year-old, from Le Puy-en-Valay, breezed past Russian Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-4 in her opening match at the final tournament before the US Open which begins in one week.
"It was important for me to get more matches before the Open started," said Bartoli. "I think it's just the perfect preparation. I have some matches here to play. I can practice as much as I want so, it's perfect."
Bartoli advances to the second round where she will face Czech Klara Zakopalova, who beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-2 in her first round match.
After cruising 6-1 in the first set, Bartoli struggled in the second set before breaking Rodionova to secure her win. Bartoli had planned to skip New Haven, but after playing poorly in Toronto and winning just one match in Cincinnati she decided she needed the work.
In other matches, 19-year-old American Christina McHale upset sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-5, 6-3, 20-year-old Polona Hercog of Slovenia upset Nadia Petrova of Russia in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5 and eighth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova needed three sets to advance past fellow Russian Vera Dushevina 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
McHale was down 4-2 in the first set before reeling off three straight games, winning the set 7-5. She broke Kuznetsova again to begin the second set, one of 11 service breaks in the match.
"I'm excited to be in the next round and it's definitely really helpful and it's great to have the crowd behind me," McHale said.
Hercog, a 20-year-old clay-court specialist, was broken at 5-4 in the second set, but rallied to win the final two games of her match with last year's runner-up Petrova.
She will face three-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the second round on Tuesday.