Kirilenko Continues Asian Success
Published February 07, 2011 05:08
PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - Curiously, Russian Maria Kirilenko plays some of her best tennis in Asia, having compiled three of her five career titles on the continent - Beijing in 2005, Kolkata in 2007 and Seoul in 2008.
Not only that, but following her 60 46 62 first round defeat of Alberta Brianti at the PTT Pattaya Open, Kirilenko's career match record in Asia is 71-41, good for a 63.4% winning percentage, significantly superior to her 155-133 match record everywhere else, which amounts to a 53.5% winning percentage.
"I always like to come back to Asia," said the No.3 seed Kirilenko, who is looking to rebound from a first round loss in Sydney and second round loss at the Australian Open to kick off her 2011 season. "The people are very nice and friendly and I always feel welcome here. I enjoy playing in such a good atmosphere."
However, Kirilenko was tested in her win on Monday, which had several swings of momentum. After taking the first six games of the match and the first set, Kirilenko then lost the first five games of the second set and reeled off four straight of her own before Brianti secured the set. Kirilenko raced to a 4-1 lead in the third and kept the momentum this time, clinching the match.
Monday's other main draw matches saw sixth-seeded Peng Shuai survive a set point in the first set of her 76(8) 60 win, while Zhang Shuai and Jill Craybas also advanced without dropping a set. Zarina Diyas, Nungnadda Wannasuk, Ksenia Palkina and Galina Voskoboeva were all victorious in the final round of qualifying.
"After the Australian Open, I went back to China and didn't do a lot of practice because my coach told me to take some rest," said Peng, who reached the round of 16 in Melbourne. "In the Chinese New Year season I couldn't even find anyone to play with me! I came here at 5am yesterday, so I'm still a bit sleepy too. So, in the first set today I didn't play so well, but I got used to everything in the second set."