Hantuchova Rallies, Upsets Azarenka
Published February 22, 2011 12:00
DOHA, Qatar - Showing her title run in Pattaya City two weeks ago wasn't just a flash of good form, Daniela Hantuchova showed she's back at her top level in Doha on Tuesday, beating No.6 seed Victoria Azarenka, 46 61 62.
Hantuchova, who beat Vera Zvonareva en route to her first WTA title in three and a half years in Pattaya, scored her second straight win over a Top 10 player with the come-from-behind win over the No.9-ranked Azarenka, rebounding after a marathon 68-minute first set loss, as well as coming back from 0-2 in the third set. The Slovak had nine aces during the encounter, Azarenka zero.
"Even after the first set went against me I was confident I was playing well and managed to turn that confidence into points," Hantuchova said. "It was really satisfying. Victoria is never easy to play but my game worked for me tonight."
Hantuchova hasn't played in Doha since 2007. "It's great being back in Doha and hearing the support of the crowds. I've always liked coming here even though it has been years since I was last year. It has really changed in that time - I don't remember more than one tall building when I was here last time!"
The other seeds in action both advanced to the second round, No.5 seed Jelena Jankovic beating Omani wildcard Fatma Al Nabhani, 61 63, and No.8 seed Shahar Peer beating Dubai finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, 62 64.
Al Nabhani, 19 years old, is Oman's only ranked player, coming in at No.426.
Other winners during the day session were Flavia Pennetta, Dominika Cibulkova, Peng Shuai, Vera Dushevina and Klara Zakopalova. Cibulkova and Dushevina both saved match points - Cibulkova fought off quadruple match point down 6-2 in the third set tie-break to beat Jarmila Groth, 64 46 76(8), while Dushevina found herself down triple match point serving 5-6, 0-40 in the third set but rallied to beat María José Martínez Sánchez, 46 61 76(1).