Zvonareva Out, Wozniacki One Away

Vera Zvonareva lost to Alisa Kleybanova. Caroline Wozniacki is a win away from a No.1 return.

Published February 17, 2011 12:00

Zvonareva Out, Wozniacki One Away
Vera Zvonareva

DUBAI, UAE - It was not a routine day for the top names at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday, as several of the seeded favorites fell under sunny skies in the third round of the prestigious Premier-level stop.

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No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva was one of the fallen ones, losing out to No.15 seed Alisa Kleybanova, 63 62. Kleybanova served up a storm, hitting six aces to no double faults and winning 65% of points on her serve (compared to 46% for Zvonareva). Zvonareva had one ace to six double faults in the match.

"It definitely wasn't my day today. Probably one of the worst matches in a while from my part," Zvonareva said. "Alisa's a tough opponent, so if you're not at a high level it's difficult to win. I have to analyze this so I can do better next week."

"I've beaten Vera once before, so when I walked on the court today I believed I can win and I am better," Kleybanova said. "I think the biggest advantage for me is that the courts here are fast, so my game has been working well here."

No.3 seed Francesca Schiavone also lost, falling to No.16 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in a rematch of their epic Australian Open encounter, 16 60 75.

"Even after losing the first set 6-1, I knew this court is a fast one and that's better for me," Kuznetsova said. "I knew if I played a little better I could turn things around, and I did it. It's good, because I still have our last match in my heart. I still have this pain, because I fought so hard and I had so many chances and it was a Grand Slam. But it happens, I guess. I won this time."

In Melbourne, Schiavone saved six match points and won; this time, the Italian saved another six, two at 4-5 and four more at 5-6, but finally succumbed.

"It was another great battle but I didn't think about the match in Australia - to be honest, Australia was a higher level from both of us," Schiavone said. "This one was very close and there is always a lot of drama, but I didn't find a reason to compare it to Australia. All around, I felt she was stronger this time."

No.11 seed Flavia Pennetta pulled off a minor upset, sending No.7 seed Victoria Azarenka to the sidelines later in the day, 63 67(2) 64.

No.4 seed Samantha Stosur, No.8 seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No.9 seed Shahar Peer all won. Stosur beat Patty Schnyder, 63 64.

"Patty is tricky. She's got the capability of hitting some unbelievable shots, then she'll go through a game and hit a couple in the back fence and one in the bottom of the net," Stosur commented afterwards. "You have to be on your game and keep a steady level the whole way, and kind of wait for her to go up and down, and obviously when you get the opportunities, go for it."

At night, No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised past qualifier Ayumi Morita, 61 60, while No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic fought back a first set blowout and a 5-3 deficit in the third to beat No.12 seed Kaia Kanepi, 26 63 75.

"I knew how Ayumi was going to play today. She has had a good week so I was really pleased about winning today," said Wozniacki, who will rise to No.1 again if she beats Peer in her next match; Peer beat her in the third round here last year. "Against Shahar I just need to stay positive and try to play like I did today. If I play well, the ranking will come automatically - for me, I'm just focused on going out there tomorrow and playing my best. That's all I can do."

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