Ivanovic produced an assured performance to clinch a comfortable straight-sets win over the former French and US Open champion.
In troublesome windy conditions in Rome, the Serb managed to attack her opponent’s serve to good effect and close out an impressive win in 73 minutes.
Ivanovic was utterly clinical in winning all five of her break points on the Kuznetsova serve, and the Russian saw her serve destroyed on two occasions in the opening set.
The Serb grew in confidence and broke Kuznetsova’s delivery three times in a stunning performance in the second set.
Ivanovic broke to love to close out victory in emphatic fashion, with 29 winners produced in the match by the Serb.
Next up for Ivanovic will be a second-round clash with either Alberta Brianti of Italy or Silvia Soler of Spain.
A potential last-16 clash with
There was no joy however for home favourite and 10th seed
The Italian won the French Open in 2010 and was runner-up last year but has won only one clay court match in four tournaments this year and lost 6-3 6-4 to Russia's