Dokic Edges Safarova, Kanepi Wins Too
Published February 08, 2011 12:00
PARIS, France - Kaia Kanepi, who made a long-awaited return to the Top 20 after the Australian Open, made a winning start to her Open GDF SUEZ campaign Tuesday, surviving a barrage of aces from Anastasija Sevastova and reaching the second round of the Premier-level tournament in straight sets.
Playing each other on the WTA for the first time, No.3 seed Kanepi withstood nine aces from Sevastova in the first set, but she held on to take it in a tie-break. In the second set Sevastova's serve cooled off, producing no aces but two double faults, and Kanepi was able to advance with a 76(5) 62 victory.
"It was one of the best matches I've played this season," Kanepi said after the match. "I played two indoor matches on the weekend in Fed Cup, so I was used to this surface. I think that helped me against Anastasija in today's match."
Kanepi spent her first 11 weeks in the Top 20 in early 2009 but fell out of that elite and out of the Top 100 as well; after Melbourne she bounced back in.
The Estonian trailblazer missed her last few tournaments of 2010 with a hamstring injury. "I only started hitting proper backhands at the end of November after my injury but I hope to have an even better year than last year."
The other two seeds in action also moved through, with No.4 seed Petra Kvitova serving up five aces to beat qualifier Vesna Manasieva, 75 64, and No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova routing another qualifier, Ana Vrljic, 60 62.
Just out of the seedings was Lucie Safarova, a two-time finalist at this event. But she wasn't able to overcome a determined Jelena Dokic, as the Australian former No.4 - a qualifier this week - battled over two hours to win, 46 63 64.
"I had nothing to lose. I just kept fighting and kept my level high from the second set," Dokic said. "I got a little tired in the third but was pleased how I responded physically, as she is a very fit player. I also played a left-hander in my last qualifying match so I was used to this. We don't play lefties regularly."
Dokic's win over the No.30-ranked Safarova was her first Top 30 win since her magical run to the Australian Open quarterfinals two years ago (she beat Anna Chakvetadze and Caroline Wozniacki during that fortnight).
"I think playing three matches in qualies helped today. I was already feeling the ball well, but I have played a lot fewer matches than these girls in the past two years," Dokic continued. "I still have things I'd like to work on though."