Maria Stops Sveta, Ana Wins
Published May 03, 2010 12:00
ROME, Italy - She won the French Open last year and many thought her 2010 struggles would vanish when she got back to clay. But Svetlana Kuznetsova's string of early round losses just got longer on Monday, as she dropped her Internazionali BNL d'Italia opener to countrywoman Maria Kirilenko.
Kirilenko, who had six Top 10 wins but had never beaten Kuznetsova before, prevailed this time, 62 36 64. Leading 4-1 in the third set, Kirilenko had three points for a 5-1 lead but Kuznetsova fought back, winning three straight games to tie it, 4-4; it appeared the reigning Roland Garros champion was surging back to victory but the surge was short-lived as Kirilenko closed it out.
"If I had played the first set like the second and third, it would probably have been a very different picture," Kuznetsova said. "I haven't had many matches this year and I haven't really found myself out there. I managed to come back from 4-1 down in the third set - I played the right way in those important moments - but as I said, without playing matches, it's hard to win."
Kuznetsova hasn't reached a quarterfinal in all seven tournaments she has played this year. It has been a tough two weeks for the Russian, who fell in the second round last week in Stuttgart as well - by contrast, she won Stuttgart and was a runner-up in Rome last year. She's currently No.5 in the world.
The first round wrapped up, with the most noteworthy victory of the day going to Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic, once ranked No.1 in the world but this week ranked a lowly No.58 after winning just two of her last nine matches coming in, showed flashes of her former self in a 61 63 win over No.32-ranked Elena Vesnina.
The seeds went 4-0 in first round play with No.12 seed Flavia Pennetta and No.16 seed Shahar Peer winning in straight sets but No.11 seed Yanina Wickmayer and No.13 seed Francesca Schiavone both being pushed to three sets. Wickmayer edged qualifier Karolina Sprem, 63 16 64, while Schiavone rallied back to beat Daniela Hantuchova, 36 62 62.
The rest of the Top 8 seeds - including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Dinara Safina - all open their Rome campaigns on Tuesday after first round byes. Safina is the defending champion here.