World number four Agnieszka Radwanska overcame a misfiring serve to beat Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-3 in the second round of the Dubai women's tennis championships on Wednesday.
The Pole, who received a first-round bye, lost three of her first four service games on an overcast centre court and she will need to improve if she is retain her Dubai title, with Petra Kvitova or Ana Ivanovic awaiting her in the next round.
"For me, the first match is always a bit tricky," Radwanska told reporters. "I didn't hit on the centre court here this year, and I was just practising outside - it was actually much faster. I was surprised - the ball is just not going anywhere and it was tough for me."
Serving at 3-3, Radwanska saved four break points after falling 0-40 behind, but Putintseva was undeterred and she earned another break point with a forehand winner down the line that fizzed past the advancing Pole.
Rattled, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist then double-faulted to fall 4-3 behind. But Radwanska, 23, responded by coming to the net more frequently to force Putintseva, ranked 101 in the world, to play on the back foot.
The Kazakh, seeking her third victory over a top-50 player, was found wanting and Radwanska broke for 4-4, with six out of eight games going against serve.
Putintseva, who beat Britain's Laura Robson in an all-teenage first-round battle, prefers brute force over finesse and although a fast hitter, she consistently played the ball too short, allowing Radwanska to stay in rallies with relative ease.
The Pole was too out of sorts to fully exploit her opponent's shortcomings but as the overcast sky gave way to a muggy desert sun she also upped the playing temperature on court, earning two set points with a flat forehand winner down the line. She needed only one as a tempestuous Putintseva smashed an attempted winner long.
Radwanska's greater pedigree - she has 12 tour singles titles to her name, while Putintseva has never made it beyond the second round of a tournament - eventually told, and she won five of the last six games.
"In the very important moments a bit of experience is always good to have," added Radwanska.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki routed Chinese qualifier Jie Zheng 6-0, 6-1, while Russian veteran Nadia Petrova had a similar romp against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, winning 6-1, 6-0.
Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images