DOHA (Reuters) - Amelie Mauresmo emerged from a potentially difficult first round match at the Qatar Open with a 7-6 6-3 win over Germany's Sabine Lisicki.
Mauresmo has slipped out of the top 20 following a poor run of form that began 11 months ago after she underwent an emergency appendectomy.
This season, after reaching the quarter-finals at Gold Coast and withdrawing from Sydney with a thigh strain, she lost to Casey Dellacqua in the third round of the Australian Open and then fell in the quarter-finals of the Paris indoor event.
By contrast, 18-year old Lisicki earned her first win over a top 20 opponent by beating Dinara Safina to reach the third round of the Australian Open, and then defeated Lindsay Davenport in a Fed Cup tie.
"It was a good first match," Mauresmo told Reuters. "In the first match you don't really expect to play your best tennis, especially when you haven't got many matches behind you, so I'm just happy about the way it went today."
Mauresmo showed flashes of the ability that had taken her to number one in the rankings and to two grand slam titles but she failed to impose herself on her less experienced opponent.
The 14th seed from France held a set point at 6-5 but netted a routine return before taking the set on a tiebreak. Then, after losing an early break in the second, she broke Lisicki from 40-0 to lead 4-3.
"I thought I started pretty slow with some up and downs," said Mauresmo. "I was doing a few mistakes here and there that I was not really happy about, but I thought it got a little bit better and the serve was not too bad today.
"The confidence is growing every time I have a win I guess. It's definitely not at the highest it can be, but I'm fighting. I'm out there to find it back and that's what I'm trying to do."