Li Edges Spanish No.1, Vinci Keeps Winning

Li Na beat María José Martínez Sánchez while Roberta Vinci's winning streak in Spain continued.

Published May 02, 2011 12:00

Li Edges Spanish No.1, Vinci Keeps Winning
Li Na

MADRID, Spain - Two days ago Roberta Vinci carved out the fourth WTA title of her career in Barcelona, and on Monday she continued her win streak just a few hours away in Madrid, beating Olga Govortsova in the first round, 64 60.

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Vinci, who has won Barcelona twice now and followed that victory with quotes such as "I feel like it's my tournament!" and "I'm in love with Barcelona," had somewhat of a slow start against Govortsova, but from 3-4 strung together nine straight games to cruise ahead at the $4.5-million Mutua Madrid Open, 64 60.

"Barcelona was unbelievable. I'm so happy I won there for the second time," the 28-year-old commented. "Today was a tough match. Not only is Govortsova a tough player but the courts are different here than in Barcelona - the altitude is different but the balls are much faster too. It was slower over there. But I adjusted and managed to win, so I'm happy. I'm confident right now."

Next up for Vinci is Alisa Kleybanova, who beat the tournament's No.9 seed Shahar Peer, 63 62. Vinci beat Kleybanova in a pair of tie-breaks in their only previous meeting, on the clay courts of Rome exactly a year ago.

The highest seed in that eighth of the draw, No.6 seed Li Na, ground out a 64 76(6) win over Spanish No.1 María José Martínez Sánchez. Li looked headed for an easy victory as she built a 64 52 lead but Martínez Sánchez, last year's Rome champion, pushed the second set to a tie-break and even fought off one match point down 6-5 before finally going down to the Chinese No.1.

Next for Li is Iveta Benesova, who beat good friend Barbora Zahlavova Strycova - with whom she just won the doubles title in Barcelona - in straight sets, 63 62. Li has won all three of her previous meetings against Benesova, although this will be their first career meeting on clay courts.

There were two more first round matches - earlier in the day, Lucie Safarova saved a match point down 5-4 in the third set to dispatch Anabel Medina Garrigues, 62 26 76(3), with Medina Garrigues having just won her first title in two years in Estoril, Portugal. At night, Dinara Safina came from a set and a break down to beat another Spaniard, Nuria Llagostera Vives, 57 64 63.

"It was the first match since my sickness. It wasn't easy to play," said Safina, who had to withdraw from the semifinals of her last WTA event due to illness. "I had basically one week without doing anything. When I went out onto the court my power wasn't there, but now I have a chance to play better next time. I was really nervous before the match but my desire to win kept me on the court."

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