Zvonareva wins in her return to court

August 4, 2010 01:01 AM
Vera Zvonareva in action against Dominika Cibulkova
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) -- Vera Zvonareva won her first match since finishing as the Wimbledon runner-up, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 on Monday at the Mercury Insurance Open.
The third-seeded Zvonareva jumped out quickly against her Slovakian opponent in her return to the court following her straight-set loss to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon finals. But the Russian was forced to scramble back after dropping the second set.
Zvonareva, ranked ninth in the world, did not appear to show any effects from the right hamstring injury that forced her to withdraw last week from the Bank of the West Classic.
“There were moments I would give myself an 'A,”’ Zvonareva said. “There were moments I would give myself a 'D.’ … At the end of the day, I won the match and that’s the most important thing.”
One big difference in the deciding third set was Zvonareva improving her service game. After inconsistent serving in the first two sets, she was successful on 71 percent of her first serves and had four of her seven aces in the third set.
“There were a lot of things, like I was able to play a little bit deeper and not let her dominate like she did in the second set,” she said. “And my serve also got better.”
Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia fought off two match points as she upset sixth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the featured night match.
Bartoli led 5-4 in the second set when she missed two match points. Hantuchova raced to a 5-2 lead as she won the tiebreaker. Hantuchova has a 4-1 career record against Bartoli, including a 3-0 mark on hardcourts.
The struggles continued for former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, who lost 7-6 (3), 6-3 to No. 7 Shahar Peer of Israel. Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, dropped her opening-round match for the fifth time in 11 tournaments this season.
Ivanovic, who got into the event as a wild card, also lost to Peer in the first round at Wimbledon. It has been nearly two years since Ivanovic won a tournament.
“I have been working so good, but it’s not coming together in the matches,” said Ivanovic, whose ranking has dropped to No. 60. “I think it’s just confidence. I don’t really believe in my shots at that particular moment and that’s what’s really tough.”
Unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova pulled the tournament’s first upset with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 win over No. 8 seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion from Russia, ran off the first five games in both the first and third sets.
In other first-round matches Tuesday, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland eliminated South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers, 7-5, 6-3; No. 5 Flavia Pennetta of Italy beat Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2, 7-5; Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan defeated Russia’s Nadia Petrova 5-7, 6-4, 6-1; Russia’s Maria Kirilenko defeated Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3; Jie Zheng of China was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over American Shenay Perry, and wild-card Gisela Dulko of Argentina retired with a right ankle sprain while trailing American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe 6-0,3-0.