Victoria Azarenka set up a meeting with Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Tuesday after a sometimes-shaky 6-4, 6-1 win over Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan.
Azarenka, herself a two-time Australian Open champion, struggled on serve at times and gave up three breaks to Gasparyan. However, the Belarusian won six straight games from 3-4 in the first set to 3-0 in the second to get the victory.
Kvitova has a bye into the second round.
Earlier, Julia Goerges won the final four games of the match and beat Maria Sakkari 6-2, 7-5 in the first round.
The fifth-seeded German trailed 5-3 in the second set before going on her run.
Goerges will play Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva in the second round.
Also, eighth-seeded Donna Vekic came back from a set down to beat Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 and set up a second-round match with lucky loser Veronika Kudermetova.