Maria Makes Quick Work on Day 1

Maria Sharapova cruised through her first match of the LA Women's Tennis Championships Monday.

Published August 03, 2009 11:59

Maria Makes Quick Work on Day 1
Maria Sharapova

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - The first round of the LA Women's Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife began on Monday and returning finalist Flavia Pennetta was the only one of four seeds to advance. Maria Sharapova also moved through to the second round.

Pennetta, the No.10 seed at the Premier-level tournament, bounced lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko in three sets, 62 57 60, despite holding a 62 41 lead and seemingly cruising to a straight set win. The Italian, who made a run to the final here a year ago before running into Dinara Safina, rebounded from the second set loss with a 23-minute third set, in which she lost only seven points.

The other three seeds in action, Virginie Razzano, Kaia Kanepi and Francesca Schiavone, all lost in straight sets, although they all came close to winning one of those sets. No.11 seed Razzano was ousted by Anna Chakvetadze, 76(5) 63, despite holding two set points leading 6-5 in the first set; No.15 seed Kanepi lost to Lucie Safarova, 63 76(4); and No.16 seed Schiavone lost to qualifier Jill Craybas, 76(7) 62, after having two set points in the first set tie-break.

Sharapova, a quarterfinalist in Stanford last week and a semifinalist in her last two appearances in Los Angeles, blew through the first set and recovered from 1-3 in the second set to beat Jarmila Groth in the feature night match, 60 64. The Russian, a former world No.1 with three Grand Slam titles to her name, returned from a nine month shoulder injury lay-off just before Roland Garros and has shown strong form since then, improving to 14-5 on Monday night.

"She was swinging away all through the match and a lot of them started to go in, but she couldn't consistently do it," Sharapova said of her opponent. "Playing all of these tournaments is a great benefit for me. This is my sixth tournament back and this is going to be a process on things I want to improve and work on in my game. It has been a good ride so far."

Other winners on Day 1 were Alona Bondarenko, Elena Vesnina, Peng Shuai, Alisa Kleybanova, Yanina Wickmayer, Shahar Peer, Ai Sugiyama and wildcards Vania King and Coco Vandeweghe. Vandeweghe recorded her first ever match win in a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw.

"I've tried and failed a couple of times but to finally get the first win under my belt is a nice feeling," Vandeweghe said. "World Team Tennis definitely helped me a lot. Hearing my coach from a different voice with my teammates helped. In the past, I'd get the right mentality on the court, but I would be inconsistent."

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