Rome:Jelena Jankovic began her defense of the Rome title on Tuesday with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Gisela Dulko of Argentina, in a match suspended for about 3 1/2 hours due to rain.
The 24-year-old Serb has won the Italian Open for the past two years but she appeared far from her best against Dulko, ranked 39 in the world.
Jankovic won early breaks in both sets but let her opponent break back. While she was able to close out the first set in a little over half an hour with another break, in the second set she had to save four set points at 4-5 before rain forced the suspension at 5-5.
After play resumed, the third-seeded Jankovic squandered 4 match points in the tie-break before taking the set and match.
"I just let her kind of come back into the match," Jankovic said in a court-side interview." After the rain delay I tried to run as much as I can, tried not make as many mistakes, play very solid and win this match."
The match was a second-round encounter as the top eight seeded players all have first-round byes in this warmup for the French Open, which begins May 24.
After finishing the 2008 season as No. 1, Jankovic went through a slump at the start of this year, which she attributed to a change in her fitness regime, and has dropped to No. 4. She won her first title of the year in Marbella, Spain, last month, but was upset by Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals in Stuttgart, Germany, last week.
Jankovic said on the eve of her opening match in Rome that she felt she had regained her focus after her mother recovered from illness.
In the only match to be completed before the rain delay, French teenager Alize Cornet, last year's runner up, was eliminated by Kateryna Bondarenko, a 22-year-old Ukrainian.
Top-ranked Dinara Safina and Serena Williams are scheduled to have their opening matches on Tuesday.