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Tennis Family Comes Together In Miami

Vera Zvonareva won her match then the tennis world raised over $300,000 for Japan relief.

Published March 25, 2011 12:00

Tennis Family Comes Together In Miami
Kimiko Date-Krumm, Kim Clijsters, Kei Nishikori, Ayumi Morita

MIAMI, FL, USA - In a battle between two of the greatest Russian WTA stars of all time, Vera Zvonareva rallied to get past Dinara Safina in her opening match. Shortly afterwards, the tennis family showed its support for Japan.

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Zvonareva, ranked No.3 in the world, and Safina, a former No.1, had met 11 times before, with Safina leading that series, 6-5 - however, Zvonareva had won four of their last five. And after Safina went up a set perhaps that recent momentum kicked into gear, as Zvonareva came back for a 36 63 62 victory.

"It's never easy to play Dinara. She started really well and I felt I had a lot of errors, but I handled the situation well and came up with good tennis when I needed it," Zvonareva said. "Dinara is trying to win as many matches as she can right now. She's a great player and I'm happy whenever she wins. We have known each other for so many years. I've had tough times too so I know how she feels, but you just take it one day at a time, one match at a time."

Before the night session began, dozens of players from the WTA and the ATP World Tour joined together on Stadium court for Tennis Family Relief For Japan, a special fundraising event for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster. The players walked through the stands collecting donations and encouraged fans to show support. In total, thanks to contributions from the WTA, ATP World Tour, the Grand Slams, Sony Ericsson, ITF, IMG, SAP, Itaú, FILA, adidas, Lagardère and the fans, the evening raised over $300,000, which will be donated to the Red Cross and other relief organizations.

Kim Clijsters was wearing a custom-designed FILA shirt, available for purchase throughout the Sony Ericsson Open - proceeds from the shirt's sales will be donated to Japan earthquake relief funds. Players have also been collecting signed tennis memorabilia that will be auctioned to raise more funds.

Zvonareva commented on the special event: "We compete against each other but when such a disaster happens in the world, we have to become a tennis family and show people we're thinking of them. It can really motivate people. Giving back as much as we can is very important. We are all successful at what we do but we've all had a lot of support from others to be here today and it's our responsibility to give back. It's the responsibility of the whole tennis family."

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No.5 seed Francesca Schiavone, No.17 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No.19 seed Ana Ivanovic all moved into the third round in straight sets. No.8 seed and former Sony Ericsson Open champion Victoria Azarenka had to fight hard to get past Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka, 75 46 60.

Ivanovic beat Japanese No.1 Kimiko Date-Krumm in the feature night match, 62 60, having also beaten her in the second round of Indian Wells. Date-Krumm, a runner-up to Steffi Graf here in 1995, has opened an account to help raise funds for Japan relief, at www.kimiko-date.com/gien/index.html.

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