Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo survived a strong challenge from Alize Cornet to beat her fellow Frenchwoman 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the Kremlin Cup first round on Monday.
Mauresmo, who has dropped outside the top 20 because of injury and poor form, trailed 4-3 in the final set before reeling off the last three games to secure her first win since Aug. 31.
The players struggled to hold serve on the fast indoor surface of the Olympic sports complex but Mauresmo's experience gave her the edge in the decider.
The unseeded Mauresmo, who reached the final here in 2003, next meets in-form Russian second seed Dinara Safina.
"Dinara is in great shape and she obviously is the favourite in our match," Mauresmo told a news conference.
"It will be a tough match for me. To have a chance against her I will need to serve well and be aggressive," said the 29-year-old, who last month parted company with long-serving coach Loic Courteau.
"I'll play without a coach until the end of the season but will start looking for one in the off-season."
Former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli of France was forced to retire against unseeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova with a toe injury.
Cibulkova, who was leading 6-1, 4-1, next plays Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanovic.
Home player Vera Dushevina also put out Czech Nicole Vaidisova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a clash with top seed Jelena Jankovic.
The women's tournament is the strongest in the Kremlin Cup's 19-year history, with eight of the world's top 10 taking part. Only world number two Serena Williams and number six Maria Sharapova are absent because of injury.
In the men's event, Russian second seed Igor Andreev, who won here in 2005, went through when Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan retired with an ankle injury after losing the first set 6-2.