INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Playing for the first time since her Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia, Ekaterina Makarova made a happy return to the courts, beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands at Indian Wells on Thursday.
Makarova made some major headlines in Melbourne, beating Serena Williams en route to her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she fell to Maria Sharapova. Makarova was the first left-hander ever to beat Williams at a Grand Slam (the American had been 18-0 in her career against them beforehand).
A left wrist injury kept Makarova out since then but in her first match back the Russian looked sharp, winning five straight games from 1-2 in the first set and four straight games from 2-3 in the second set for a 62 63 triumph.
Makarova will play No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round. Wozniacki has won both of their previous meetings, and Makarova is 0-11 against Top 5 players (losing 10 of those 11 matches in straight sets).
Other late winners were Irina-Camelia Begu, Sofia Arvidsson, Magdalena Rybarikova, Lourdes Domínguez Lino, Varvara Lepchenko and Lauren Davis. Domínguez Lino had to fend off a match point down 5-4 in the third set to get by María José Martínez Sánchez, 63 16 75, and Begu had a closer call, saving three match points down 64 54 to beat Lucie Hradecka, 46 75 62.
Among many interesting doubles match-ups on Day 2 was No.6-seeded Spanish-Italian duo Anabel Medina Garrigues and Flavia Pennetta against Argentine Olympic hopefuls Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez. Dulko and Pennetta have been one of the most dangerous teams in the world the last few years but found themselves on opposite sides of the net this time as Dulko partners Suárez this season, an Olympic medal their primary goal.
Dulko and Suárez came out on top this time in a match tie-break, 63 36 107.
"Flavia and Anabel played really well, but we played well too," Dulko said. "It was tough to have Flavia on the other side because she's my best friend."
"We started with tournaments in Bogotá, Monterrey and Acapulco, but this is our first big tournament together," Suárez said. "We're still trying to get our rhythm together, because I was out of tennis almost five years - I didn't even play any tennis. But I feel very good now and it was the right decision for me."
Dulko had also won her singles match earlier in the day, although maybe not the way she wanted - Jelena Dokic retired with a wrist injury after just one game. "It was only three minutes," Dulko said. "She was having problems. I noticed she was playing a lot of slice, and she doesn't usually do that."
Dulko next faces No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, who received a first round bye. Sharapova leads the head-to-head, 3-1 - Dulko won at Wimbledon in 2009, but Sharapova has won their other three previous meetings handily.