Sharapova Edges Petrova; World No.1 Keeps Cruising
Published May 27, 2009 04:23
PARIS, France - The competitor in Maria Sharapova came out at Roland Garros on Wednesday, as the former world No.1 won a nail-biter against compatriot Nadia Petrova to reach the third round of the year's second Grand Slam tournament.
Sharapova, who returned to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour last week and reached the quarterfinals of the Premier-level Warsaw Open, was the underdog against the No.11-seeded Petrova on paper but having won five of their six previous meetings, a close one seemed in the cards. After losing the first set, 6-2, Petrova looked like she was headed for a routine three set win, winning the second set, 6-1, and building 4-2 in the third, even holding points for 5-2. But Sharapova roared back to win six of eight games and the match, 62 16 86.
"She really showed, even though she has been out for a while, that she's willing to compete until the end," Petrova said. "I'm disappointed I didn't finish it off when I had everything in my hands. That's what I need to do to become a better player and win titles, go for my shots without doubts. But Maria showed she's a real champion. I really felt the confidence and power behind her shots."
"These types of matches are really important for me. I'm spending more time out there than I want to, but I'm learning so many new things as well," Sharapova said. "When you haven't played for such a long time and you're put in these situations, many things come back to you. This was a great match where I had to fight my way through many, many challenges, and I did."
Petrova wasn't the only seed going down, as Michelle Larcher de Brito - only 16 years old and a qualifier into her very first Grand Slam main draw - beat No.15 seed Zheng Jie, 64 63. It was her third Top 20 win, after two last year.
"I feel great. I don't think it's really sinking in yet," Larcher de Brito said. "Zheng is a tough opponent. I just went in very strong today. It was just my day."
The rest of the seeds were all successful, with No.1 seed Dinara Safina, No.8 seed Ana Ivanovic, No.9 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.20 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No.22 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, No.25 seed Li Na, No.27 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No.29 seed Agnes Szavay and No.32 seed Iveta Benesova all winning their second round matches. No.21 seed Alizé Cornet completed her rain delayed first round match against Maret Ani, 64 75.
Safina and Ivanovic, last year's runner-up and champion, had two of the most convincing wins of the day, the Russian beating qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko, 61 61, and the Serb clobbering Tamarine Tanasugarn, 61 62.
"It wasn't an easy match. We had lots of close games," Ivanovic said. "The conditions were much slower than my first match and it took some time for me to adjust, but I was in the moment and trying to play each point. I just want to make my way through some rounds and get more and more comfortable each match. I'm very happy about my game and my mental state right now."
Other winners were Gisela Dulko, Aravane Rezai, Olga Govortsova and qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova. No.3 seed Venus Williams took the court in the evening and dropped the first set to Czech lefty Lucie Safarova, 76(5), before play was called due to darkness.