Kleybanova Cruises, Dellacqua Returns
Published April 25, 2011 12:00
ESTORIL, Portugal - With steely nerves on the big points Alisa Kleybanova got her Estoril Open campaign off to a flying start on Monday, converting on all four break point chances she got during a 62 62 victory over Olga Govortsova.
Kleybanova, ranked No.25 and the tournament's top seed, came into Estoril on a three-match losing streak, but snapped out of it with the 66-minute win over Govortsova, who had actually won their last two meetings in straight sets.
"It would be great if I could keep going like this," Kleybanova said. "It's my second tournament on clay, but my first one in Charleston was a little bit of a disaster, so I was training hard for this week. I really do want to do well here - at the end of the day I practice to play matches, I don't practice just to practice!"
This is Kleybanova's second appearance in Estoril. In 2008 she made her debut here as the No.69-ranked player in the world, falling first round. "I definitely feel a lot fitter now," the 21-year-old said. "That year my clay court game wasn't that strong, and on top of that it was raining the whole time and I didn't even get to practice. The courts were so slow because they had to put so much clay on, which made it worse for me! It wasn't a great week. I don't even think about it!"
Last year the Russian missed six weeks between March and May with a foot injury, so she can really make up some ground this spring, starting here. "I didn't want to go to Madrid without any matches. My chances at big events are always good if I'm playing well. Also I don't have the pressure of losing any points because of last year, so it's a nice time to take some steps forward."
The other seeds had mixed results. No.6 seed Elena Vesnina cruised but No.5 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost in three hours and five minutes to Monica Niculescu, 64 57 63; No.7 seed Zheng Jie lost to Romina Oprandi, 64 62.
Mathilde Johansson, Alla Kudryavtseva, Johanna Larsson and Casey Dellacqua also scored first round wins. Dellacqua played just one match after Miami in 2010 because of a foot injury, and has been working her way back into form on the ITF Circuit in 2011. On Monday she beat Zhang Shuai, 62 61.
"I've been playing some $25,000s on the ITF level for the last few months but felt really confident coming into this week," the 26-year-old Dellacqua, a former Top 40 player, said. "To get a win at the WTA level is a real confidence booster for me. I've been training on clay a lot recently and feel good on this surface."
Next up could be another Australian, Jarmila Gajdosova, seeded No.2 here. "Obviously Jarka's been playing some great tennis. I'm just happy to be fit and healthy and out there playing. I will give it my best shot and we'll see."