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Sania Sets Up Venus Clash in Charleston

Sania Mirza will be No.2 seed Venus Williams' first test at the Family Circle Cup after her first round win Tuesday.

Published April 14, 2009 12:00

Sania Sets Up Venus Clash in Charleston
Sania Mirza

CHARLESTON, SC, USA - The top seeds made stellar first impressions at the Family Circle Cup Tuesday, winning their opening matches comfortably. Elena Dementieva came out of the blocks particularly quickly.

The Top 8 seeds all received first round byes but their opponents weren't helped at all by the extra match, as Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Marion Bartoli and Dominika Cibulkova all brushed them aside in straight sets. Zvonareva, the third seed, was the first of the bunch to advance, beating Paraguay's Rossana de los Ríos in the afternoon, 63 62.

"I felt pretty good for my first match of the year on clay," said Zvonareva, a finalist here last year. "I didn't expect myself to play my best, and it was a bit of a struggle at times because of the wind, but it was pretty good. I'm feeling strong and I hope to continue winning. We'll see what will happen this week."

Zvonareva made a scintillating run to the final of the Family Circle Cup last year, finishing runner-up to Serena Williams in three closely-contested sets.

Sixth and seventh seeds Bartoli and Cibulkova followed her into the round of 16, the Frenchwoman brushing aside Latvian qualifier Anastasija Sevastova, 61 63, and the Slovak beating Austria's Tamira Paszek, 64 60. Fourth seed Petrova was the only one to be pushed to a third set but once she was there she certainly delivered, beating another Austrian player, Patricia Mayr, 61 26 62.

"I'm very happy the way I played, even though I let some distractions in and lost the second set," said Petrova, a champion here three years ago. "I knew I'd win in the third set if I just stuck to my game. I'm serving well and feeling good."

Dementieva, who rose to a new career-high ranking of No.3 in the world last week and is the top seed this week, was devastating in her win over Julie Ditty, losing two close games late in the match but cruising through the 12 others for a 60 62 win. Dementieva, 27, and Ditty, 30, had never played before.

"I don't feel any pressure being the No.1 seed here. There are a lot of players who have won the tournament here before, so I know there will be a lot of tough players here," Dementieva said. "Tonight was a good start to the tournament for me. I had never played Julie before so I really didn't want her to get into the match. It's easy to lose your concentration. I really stayed focused tonight."

The remaining first round matches were also played, with seeds Aleksandra Wozniak, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sabine Lisicki all winning, but No.15 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova falling to American qualifier Shenay Perry, 75 61. Unseeded players Elena Vesnina, Alla Kudryavtseva, Akgul Amanmuradova, Viktoriya Kutuzova, Stéphanie Dubois and India's Sania Mirza also advanced.

The second round will wrap up on Wednesday, with 11 second round matches - including No.2 seed Venus Williams taking on Mirza in a battle between global superstars - highlighting the order of play at the Premier-level tournament.

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