Rodionova Topples Top Seed Kanepi

Arina Rodionova pulled off an upset at the AEGON Classic on Tuesday, as did Mirjana Lucic.

Published June 07, 2011 10:07

Rodionova Topples Top Seed Kanepi
Arina Rodionova

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom - Arina Rodionova's 64 62 defeat of Kaia Kanepi in second round action Tuesday at the AEGON Classic was shocking for several reasons.

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For one, the 21-year-old Russian Rodionova had only two WTA main draw wins in her career prior to the match, the second coming just a day earlier against Virginie Razzano. Also, her triumph over the 97th-ranked Razzano had been the biggest victory of her career in terms of ranking, so taking on the 17th-ranked and top-seeded Kanepi looked to be beyond a formidable challenge. Plus, Kanepi had proven she was comfortable on grass, having gone all the way to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon last year.

Nevertheless, Rodionova was up to the challenge, making this the fifth time this year a No.1 seed has lost her opener and the first time her conqueror was a qualifier. Here are the circumstances of each:

Event Result Winner's Final Result
Sydney Cibulkova d. (1) Wozniacki, 63 63 QF
Memphis Krajicek d. (1) Zahlavova Strycova, 61 63 R16
Kuala Lumpur Dokic d. (1/WC) Schiavone, 26 76(1) 64 Champion
Barcelona Rybarikova d. (1/WC) Bartoli, 64 61 R16
Birmingham (Q) Rodionova d. (1) Kanepi 64 62 ?

It doesn't get much easier for Rodionova, as in the round of 16 she takes on 14th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova, who won this event in 2009 and has a 10-1 match record here. Also upset in the second round Tuesday was fifth-seeded Roberta Vinci, who dropped a heart-breaker to Mirjana Lucic, 67(2) 76(4) 75. Vinci had a match point at 5-4 in the second set on Lucic's serve, but Lucic rallied to take the set. Up 6-5 in the third set, the Croat broke Vinci's serve at love to clinch the match.

"It was so difficult. It was quite windy. That was giving us both some problems," Lucic said. "And also the shadows were really tough and it was a little cold. The conditions were definitely tough, but it was the same for both of us and I'm just happy that I was able to handle it well."

Things are looking up for Lucic, who reached her first quarterfinal since 1999 last month in Strasbourg and at No.94 has her highest ranking since July 2000.

"This win definitely means a lot," Lucic said. "Especially for me, she's a difficult opponent. She mixes up her game a lot and doesn't give me a lot of rhythm, so this just proves to me that all the hard work I'm doing is paying off and all the things we're working on are finally starting to work not just in practice but in matches, and obviously today proves that we're doing the right things."

First round play also wrapped up on Tuesday, with No.9 seed Ayumi Morita and No.11 seed Yaroslava Shvedova among the victors.

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