OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur would normally have more trouble pronouncing Noppawan Lertcheewakarn's name than beating the Thai world number 168 on the tennis court.
But on Tuesday the Australian came perilously close to another first-round exit in Japan following her recent loss to Maria Kirilenko at the Pan Pacific Open, scraping through 6-3 3-6 7-5 in the Japan Open.
Stosur's stumble against Kirilenko was her first match since winning her first career grand slam title in New York.
The top seed needed two hours, 13 minutes to see off her little-known Thai opponent in Osaka with a display that will not have helped her confidence before the year-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul.
Stosur, who has added next week's Kremlin Cup to her schedule to sharpen herself up for Istanbul, plays world number 113 Misaki Doi of Japan in the second round.
Fourth seed Petra Cetkovska upset the locals by knocking out 41-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2 7-6.
(Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Ed Osmond)