Kirilenko Records First Win of Year
Published March 02, 2009 12:00
MONTERREY, Mexico - After suffering three first round losses - in Sydney, Melbourne and Dubai - current world No.38 Maria Kirilenko notched her first win of the season on the opening day's play of the inaugural Monterrey Open. But, in the final match on Monday evening, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska suffered her third first round loss of the year, this time to China's 27-year-old Li Na.
On the comeback from yet another injury, Li is of course a far better player than her current ranking of No.53 would suggest, a fact that Agnieszka would have known only too well as she prepared for the match. Managing to win just 33 percent of points on her second serve, the young Pole was broken six times by the Chinese star, including three times in the decisive third set. Li advanced, 76(5) 46 60.
Earlier, Agnieszka's younger sister, Urszula, was also on court, albeit briefly. The former junior Wimbledon champion, who beat her more celebrated sibling in Dubai two weeks ago, had no answer to the guile of recent Top 20 debutante Zheng Jie, falling 63 63. Joining No.4 seed Zheng in the second round was Lucie Safarova, who powered home against Mexican wildcard Melissa Torres Sandoval, 64 61; the Czech lefty takes on Kirilenko next. Seventh seed Gisela Dulko of Argentina also moved on, edging France's Nathalie Dechy, 64 75.
On paper, each of Kirilenko's defeats this year has been a narrow upset, but all have been to in-form players on the rise: Alisa Kleybanova, Sara Errani, and Anastasia Payvlyuchenkova. So while New Zealand's Marina Erakovic isn't quite as highly rated as that trio just yet, 22-year-old Kirilenko could have been forgiven for approaching the match with some trepidation. Erakovic is a feisty all-court player with several good scalps to her name, but on this occasion eighth-seeded Kirilenko kept her composure to register a straight-sets win, 64 63.
The four qualifying slots were also determined in Monterrey on Monday, with Dutch teen Arantxa Rus advancing at the expense of Argentina's Bettina Jozami, and Slovakia's Lenka Wienerova beating Hungary's Greta Arn. Michaella Krajicek, who was granted a wildcard into the qualifying event, ousted Mara Santangelo, while Vania King prevailed over Olga Savchuk in three sets.
On Tuesday, No.5 seed Agnes Szavay faces Pauline Parmentier during the daytime, to be followed by No.6 seed Iveta Benesova against Israel's Shahar Peer. Second seed Marion Bartoli and third seed Flavia Pennetta make their first appearances in the evening, against Jill Craybas and Krajicek, respectively.