Sharapova and Bartoli advance at Bank of the West

July 28, 2010 03:41 AM
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Maria Sharapova would have preferred to forget about the last time she played China's Zheng Jie. At least she can move forward after settling a score.

Sharapova made a triumphant return to hardcourts, beating Zheng, 6-4, 7-5, in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic on Tuesday night.

Sharapova suffered a loss to Zheng the last time she played on hardcourts, at Indian Wells in March.

``That was a scratchy match,'' said the fifth-seeded Russian. ``I wasn't feeling good and I didn't want to remember it.''

The 15th-ranked Sharapova missed six weeks right after that loss because of an elbow injury and shoulder problems.

``After you don't play for a while you have to be ready from the beginning,'' said Sharapova, who won for the 15th time in her last 18 matches. ``I wanted to adapt as quickly as I could. She's a competitor and a good player and I had to be ready.''

Sharapova meets Olga Govortsova of Belarus in Thursday's second round.

``I'm just trying to work myself toward the U.S. Open,'' Sharapova said. ``I'm just happy to be back playing.''

Defending champion Marion Bartoli was another of the five seeds to advance, beating American Ashley Harkleroad 6-1, 6-4.

The fourth-seeded Frenchwoman, ranked 14th, beat Harkleroad for the first time in three meetings, though it was their first meeting in six years.

``She played really well, especially in the second set,'' Bartoli said. ``For someone who hasn't played that much lately, she was giving me a hard time out there.''

Bartoli, who faces wild card Ana Ivanovic in the second round, won 81 percent of her first serve points to overwhelm the American, who played her second match on the WTA Tour in two years.

``The matches Ana and I have had in the past have been really, really close,'' Bartoli said of facing the former top-ranked Serb. ``I'm definitely looking forward to it. I think this is great preparation for me if I want to do well at the U.S. Open.''

In the final match of the night, American teenager Melanie Oudin recovered from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to beat Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 29 minutes.

Oudin, ranked 44th, gained attention with her run to the quarterfinals of last year's U.S. Open. Wozniak became the first Canadian in over 20 years to win a Tour singles title when she captured the crown at Stanford in 2009.

In other first-round matches, sixth-seeded Shahar Peer of Israel beat Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3; No. 7 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium downed Taipei's Yung-Jan Chan, 6-3, 6-4; Belarus' Victoria Azarenka, the eighth seed, topped Japan's Ayumi Morita, 6-0, 6-2; qualifier Olga Savchuk of Ukraine knocked off American Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-3; USA's Christina McHale defeated Taipei's Kai-Chen Chang, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, in a match featuring a pair of qualifiers; and Russian Maria Kirilenko beat qualifier Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, 6-1, 6-4.