Alona, Alexandra Win Openers
Published May 17, 2010 05:00
WARSAW, Poland - Last year the Polsat Warsaw Open was played mostly under leaden skies and unfortunately the weather picked up where it left off as the first round of the 2010 event kicked off on Monday.
But although the rain forced the final round of qualifying and some doubles matches to be played indoors at a different venue, a couple of key contenders were able to make delayed - and ultimately successful - starts to their campaigns at the main Legia Stadium.
First to win through to the second round of the $600,000 Premier event, despite the raindrops, was two-time runner-up and No.6 seed Alona Bondarenko. Sometimes mercurial, the Ukrainian is coming off a win over Caroline Wozniacki at Madrid last week and today she handled the heavy clay court conditions better than Italy's Roberta Vinci, winning 63 61 in just over an hour.
Up next was the player who beat Bondarenko in last year's final, Alexandra Dulgheru. Last year the young Romanian lifted the trophy as a qualifier, which means that after her first round win over Kateryna Bondarenko today she is on a nine-match winning streak in the Polish capital.
"I was a little nervous, of course - you can't go out there without any sort of feeling," said Dulgheru. "The conditions were tough - the balls were getting very heavy, and when we hit hard it seemed like they were digging holes into the court.
"Kateryna has been injured, but I thought she played some great points, and so I'm very glad to have this win."
By her own high standards Dementieva has had a disappointing red clay season so far, winning just two matches. But the Olympic gold medalist believes she can still be a threat both this week and then at Roland Garros.
"I usually like to play the week before a Grand Slam," said the 28-year-old, who in particular has done well at Sydney the week before the Australian Open in the last couple of years. "I think playing matches is the best preparation, and for me now it's important to get my confidence and rhythm. I've had nice experiences here in Warsaw in the past so I'm glad to be back."
Dementieva's compatriot and former Top 10 cohort Anna Chakvetadze fell at the last hurdle in qualifying to up-and coming Serb Bojana Jovanovski. Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova, Romanian Irina Begu and Greta Arn of Hungary also secured main draw berths.