Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic hopes a recent shake-up in her coaching and fitness team will help her produce a solid second half of the year starting at this week's San Diego Open.
The number 19 Serb, seeded fifth at the $721,000 hardcourt event, will try and forget a first-round loss last week in Stanford against Japan's Ayumi Morita. She will open against either Morita or Australian Jelena Dokic.
"I've not had a great first part of the season, but I'm hoping to change that now," said Ivanovic, the 2008 champion at Roland Garros who then ascended to the top WTA ranking before a slow decline.
"It has been up and down for me, but I'm looking forward now. There is still half of the season to go."
The winner of 10 WTA titles is working now with Briton Nigel Sears as coach and has also re-appointed former fitness trainer Scot Burns. In addition, she is advised by Swiss Heinz Gunthardt, former coach to Steffi Graf.
"I'm just happy to be competing," said Ivanovic. "There are a lot of good and I'm just hoping to do well."
The Serb is playing in San Diego for the third time, with her most recent match a first-round loss last year.
Leading seeds got in more practice time in perfect sun-soaked conditions thanks to byes as understudies took the spotlight on opening day.
Polona Hercog, the Slovenian 16th seed, defeated South African Natalia Grandin 7-6 (7/1), 2-6, 6-4 while China's Zheng Jie put out Croatian Mirjana Lucic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).
Virginie Razzano of France staged a fightback past Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. Brit Elena Baltacha, who lost to Razzano last week, kept up the misery for one-time US Open quarter-finalist Melanie Oudin 6-0, 6-1.
Other first-round winners included Americans Andrea Glatch and Jill Craybas and Russian Vera Dushevina, a winner over Aravane Rezai of France by 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Russian Vera Zvonareva holds the top seeding ahead of Andre Petkovic, one of theree players from Germany's new wave who are attracting attention this year.
Along with Australian Open quarter-finalist Petkovic, Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki and Stuttgart champion Julia Goerges are also making debuts at the event.
"We have three girls all doing well," said the personable Petkovic. "We have a healthy rivalry. It's always tough to play a friend, but we will all have to do that.
"We each push each other by our results to improve. We all believe we can do damage at the Grand Slams."