Defending champion Maria Sharapova emerged triumphant from a gruelling contest of three tie-breakers against Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

The Russian sixth seed, who is bidding to win this tournament for the third successive year, eventually saw off her Czech opponent 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/2) after three hours and 23 minutes.

Compatriots Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova joined Sharapova in the second round.

Jelena Jankovic, the fifth seed, saved four match points and needed four of her own before finally seeing off Germany's Mona Barthel 2-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-3.

Eighth seed Sara Errani progressed at the expense of Klara Koukalova, winning 6-3 6-4, and there were also wins for fellow Italian Roberta Vinci and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.