Tokyo:Maria Sharapova began her campaign to reclaim the Pan Pacific Open title on Monday with victory over Francesca Schiavone of Italy.
But the three-time Grand Slam champion was forced to come from a set down to eventually take the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 after two hours and 22 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum.
"I thought I did a good job of hanging in there because she was playing at a high level, some of the best tennis she has played against me in all of our match-ups before," said Sharapova, winner here in 2005.
"It was really important to stay patient. I did a good job fighting back," the 22-year-old said.
Sharapova on Tuesday will face Samantha Stosur of Australia, who downed American qualifier Alexa Glatch 7-5, 6-0.
The Russian returned to top-level tennis in May after a nine-month injury layoff during which she underwent surgery on her right shoulder.
"It's tough because I didn't really know what to expect because it was my first in my career, being out for so long," she said.
"What I learned is it takes a really long time.
"I am OK with it. I have a lot of passion about this sport. I certainly have the will to keep going even though challenges have certainly come out in front of me."
Sharapova said she looked forward to the off-season to sharpen her fitness and skills.
"Fingers crossed I am going to be able to put a lot of work on the court, spend a couple of months really working on my game, getting ready for the next year," she said.