Aravane Ousted, Sveta Survives
Published April 05, 2011 04:13
MARBELLA, Spain - Aravane Rezai was a high profile casualty at the Andalucia Tennis Experience on Tuesday, the No.3 seed dispatched by Spanish wildcard Estrella Cabeza Candela. Second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova nearly joined her in the $220,000 event's pay queue, but though pushed to the limit, the Russian went through to the second round.
"For me it takes maybe two weeks to prepare for clay properly, and there just wasn't time," said Kuznetsova after her 46 76(4) 64 win over German qualifier Mona Barthel. "I was expecting to hit more winners and it wasn't happening because this is clay. But I knew that if I kept fighting things might go my way, and I'm happy that I was able to do it."
The two-time Grand Slam champion's self-belief was sorely tested along the way: Barthel led by a set and 4-1, and refused to crumble after her highly fancied opponent regrouped to level at a set apiece. Only at the very end did Kuznetsova finally get her nose in front with a decisive break.
Experience also made a difference for Dinara Safina, who dropped the first set of her match against Arantxa Rus but reeled in her Dutch rival, 36 62 64.
"It's good to finally win one," said Safina, who had been 0-3 in three set matches this year. "Everything she hit was landing in, on the line. But I hung in there and the moment she thought that she could win she got tight and started to miss shots. So I think at the crucial moment my experience played a big part and helped me to win."
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By contrast, Rezai was asked questions by world No.258 Cabeza Candela but couldn't find the answers. Her own serve broken five times, the Frenchwoman held nine break points against the Spaniard but could only convert one as she slumped to a 63 60 loss.
"Although she was one of the seeds and that she hits the ball well, I knew that she hadn't been in great form," said 24-year-old Cabeza Candela after the biggest win of her career. "I tried to take advantage of that."
There was more good news for the Spanish contingent when veteran Lourdes Domínguez Lino edged Angelique Kerber in three, and qualifier Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino upset Monica Niculescu, 75 64. But local wildcard María-Teresa Torro-Flor was beaten by fifth seed Tsvetana Pironkova, 62 62.
Agnes Szavay continued her comeback from injury with a 61 61 defeat of Johanna Larsson, to set a meeting with Kuznetsova; Kristina Barrois held off Kirsten Flipkens; and Romanian qualifier Irina-Camelia Begu spoiled Alberta Brianti's 31st birthday party, 64 61.
Top seed Victoria Azarenka plays her first round match on Wednesday, against Arantxa Parra Santonja.