PARIS, France - No.7 seed Petra Kvitova opened her French Open campaign in style on Monday afternoon with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over France's Oceane Dodin.
After missing last year's tournament due to an arm injury, Kvitova made a winning return to the Parisian clay under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, dispatching the 23-year-old home favorite in 77 minutes.
It was a largely dominant afternoon for the two-time Wimbledon champion against a player with a similar aggressive playing style to her own, thanks in part to a stunning winner-to-unforced error ratio where she recorded 29 winners to just 14 unforced errors. The left-hander also sparkled on serve as she hit eight aces, won 86 percent of the points played behind her first serve and was broken just once.
"Definitely she plays very similar flat shots [to me], which I'm trying a little bit with the topspin sometimes on the forehand," Kvitova said after the match. "She served very well. In the second set, she really started to play much better than in the first.
"She didn't make that many mistakes and it was really a tough one. I just really tried to stay there mentally strong and wait for the chance to break her and serve well. In the end of the match I served really well, so it was really helping me."
Both players were steady on serve over the early games of the opening set, with neither player facing a break point over the first seven games.
It was Kvitova, however, who found and converted the small opening she was given in the eighth game, breaking serve and later wrapping up the set. In all, the Czech lost just two points in five service games in the opener, including a perfect of 15-for-15 on points behind her first serve.
As Kvitova moved ahead by a set and a break, the second set proved tighter as the 23-year-old Frenchwoman sought to extend her stay in the match.
Dodin broke back immediately, turning around a 30-15 lead for Kvitova into her lone break point opportunity of the match - and stayed ahead thanks in part to some well-timed ballstriking of her own.
In the end, however, the World No.118 was unable to fend off Kvitova entirely - and after saving a break point at 1-1 and 4-4, proved unable to do so at 5-5 which proved the difference in the match.
"Even [though] she broke me, she really had a great game over there, and I was a little bit struggling," Kvitova added.
"In the end of the second set... I made few aces, I made probably one or two double faults. It was really stable, the serve. I think that really I put the pressure on her on the return game."
The win for Kvitova is a first on clay since last May in Rome, as she did not compete in any of the European clay events following a fourth-round loss to American Shelby Rogers at the US Open.
Up next, Kvitova will face Italian Jasmine Paolini, who scored a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Spaniard Aliona Bolsova, who reached the fourth round in Paris out of qualifying last year.
"I'm healthy. That's important. Last year I had to withdraw from the Roland Garros, so this time I can get only better," she said.
"I think we are very glad and very pleased, honestly, that we are here and we can play here, even with few spectators. I really miss them, so it's really nice that they could come.
"I'm just really glad that we are able to play at another Grand Slam this year, and that's really good news."