PARIS (AFP) - Chinese sixth seed Li Na, the 2011 champion, cruised into the French Open second round on Monday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues.
The 31-year-old Li, who will face Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States for a place in the last 32, had lost all three of her previous career meetings on clay against Garrigues.
Her form on the surface has also been inconsistent this year, with a runner-up finish to Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart followed by a first-round loss in Madrid and a third-round exit in Rome.
Under the watchful gaze of coach Carlos Rodriguez, the man who engineered Justine Henin's successes at Paris, Li was quickly 5-1 up in the first set.
But the experienced Garrigues, playing in her 38th consecutive Grand Slam main draw, rallied late on with two games before the Chinese star settled to take the opener after 48 minutes.
In a roller-coaster of a tie, Garrigues was 2-0 up in the second set before Li hit back for 4-3.
The Spanish 30-year-old clung on for 4-4 before Li broke for a 5-4 advantage and then sealed the win when her opponent went long with a service return.
In all, the match featured 10 breaks of serve.