PARIS, France - Just hours after completing a dramatic victory alongside Roberta Vinci in the final of the Australian Open doubles, Sara Errani was hotfooting it to the airport to catch a plane to Paris.
However, while the Italian's travel itinerary afforded her little time for celebration, the extra acclimatization time on the indoor courts of the Stade Pierre de Coubertin has certainly paid dividends.
Errani was runner-up at the Open GDF SUEZ 12 months ago and on Thursday kicked off her challenge with a comfortable victory over compatriot Karin Knapp. It was Errani's first singles match since a surprise first round defeat to Julia Goerges in Melbourne and she was clearly determined to return to winning ways, attacking Knapp's serve from the off and breaking twice in quick succession to take a stranglehold of the first set.
Knapp recovered one of the breaks but it was not enough to salvage the set, and when she fell behind in the second there was no way back, Errani completing a 64 63 win when a forehand sailed long.
"I'm very happy with how I played, it's not an easy match because she's a very good player," Errani said. "We know each other very well and it's difficult to play someone from your country."
"I saw her match the other day, she's playing very well and is very young so I will have to be at my best to beat her," Errani added.
Flipkens' attacking game is well suited to the fast surface in Paris and she proved far too strong for Yvonne Meusburger, wrapping up a 61 63 win in just 59 minutes.
Petkovic was similarly impressive, knocking out home favourite Kristina Mladenovic, 64 62. Next for Petkovic will be another Frenchwoman, Alizé Cornet, who took advantage of the late withdrawal of No.2 seed Petra Kvitova with a respiratory illness to defeat lucky loser Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 63 67(2) 63.
"I was absolutely intent on playing today but I had to see my doctor as I wasn't feeling well," Kvitova said. "I've got a sore throat and after practicing this morning I realized that after 10 minutes I wasn't able to breathe so unfortunately I was forced to withdraw."