On The Up For Iveta
Published July 13, 2010 12:00
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Though laboring under a weight of expectation, the leading ladies of Czech tennis made winning starts at the ECM Prague Open by Glanzis on Tuesday.
First through was Iveta Benesova, not long ago the nation's No.1 but currently languishing at No.68 in the rankings. The 27-year-old lefty won her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at Fès in May but since then has won just two matches (in qualifying at Madrid). Hampered by shoulder problems, she has suffered five first round losses in a row.
Today, Benesova scored an early break against Mervana Jugic-Salkic of Bosnia Herzegovina, but after the qualifier drew level needed another to take the first set. The second set went on serve until 3-3, and then on tit-for-tat breaks of serve until 6-6, with Jugic-Salkic taking the tie-break. In the decider Benesova's experience told as she drew blood in the fourth game and again to close out the match, 64 67(4) 62.
"I am happy to win like this," said Benesova. "It wasn't a simple match, I really had to fight. I know I have talent but I need to work harder. I want to be ranked in the 20s again."
Other Czechs in the winners' circle on day two of the $220,000 event included top seed Lucie Safarova, who retrieved a break late in the second set to hold off up-and-coming Simona Halep, 64 75.
"I knew it would be a tough match today, but I played well and only made a few mistakes on my forehand," Safarova said. "I'm the No.1 seed here and I hope to do what everybody is expecting from me, to win the title."
Eighth seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Andrea Hlavackova, 62 64 and lucky loser Eva Hrdinova, who filled the space left by the withdrawal of Gisela Dulko, capitalized with a win over Anna Lapushchenkova, 75 60.
And Prague's own Lucie Hradecka overcame a slow start to beat Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele, 76(6) 62. "I was very nervous in the first set - all of my family and a lot of my friends were here," Hradecka confessed. "I was losing 5-1 but I came back, and I decided I would keep fighting hard from the start of the second set."
Two locals were shown the exit, however. Sandra Zahlavova fell to Colombian qualifier Catalina Castaño, and new Wimbledon girls' champion Kristyna Pliskova succumbed to fifth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in straight sets.
Among other favorites in action, No.3 seed Timea Bacsinszky was ousted by Monica Niculescu; No.7 seed Agnes Szavay backed up her final triumph in Budapest on Sunday with a routine win over Romanian qualifier Liana Ungur; and No.2 seed Alexandra Dulgheru outlasted Italian veteran Tathiana Garbin in three sets. However, Dulgheru later pulled out of the tournament with bilateral knee pain, gifting Polona Hercog passage into the quarterfinals.