Anna Chakvetadze took another step towards rediscovering her on-court confidence which she admits was badly shaken up by a robbery attempt at her Moscow home in December last year.
The sixth seed Russian was a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 winner over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and moved into the second round of the $1.5 million Barclays Dubai Tennis Championship.
At the Aviation Club on Tuesday, seventh seed Marion Bartoli of France was knocked out by Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1, while crowd favourite Sania Mirza of India overcame a shaky start against Vera Dushevina of Russia before advancing with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win.
However, the fifth seed and Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova withdrew before her opening match with a viral illness. Her place was taken in the main draw by Japanese lucky loser Akiko Morigami, who made full use of her good fortune by seeing off Hungarian Agnes Szavay 6-1, 6-4.
Nicole Vaidisova of Czech Republic was a 6-3, 6-0 winner over Aiko Nakamura, while twice Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo struggled to beat qualifier Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (7), 6-2.
Chavetadze, who plays compatriot Dinara Safina next, said the armed robbery shook her up so much she could not sleep the first three nights in her room, and had to cancel her pre-season training plans.
“So many bad things happened to me, I just could not concentrate on my game. I could not believe it (the robbery) was happening to me. I had only seen something like this in the movies,” said the 20-year-old, who was tied up and her father was assaulted.
“We now have bodyguards living with us inside the house. I wanted to move to another part of Moscow, but my parents want to stay in the same place.
“I did not have any preparation coming into the season, and played the Australian Open only because it is a Grand Slam. I am slowly regaining my rhythm and winning Paris was good for me, but that was indoors.
“I lost my first match in Doha and knew I had a tough opponent in Agnieszka here. She played really well, but I should have won in two sets because I let go many chances to break her in the second. But I am happy to have played a tough opening round. I am already feeling a lot better about my game.”
Anna Chakvetadze rediscovers her confidence