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Schiavone Survives Resurgent Dokic

Francesca Schiavone got her first win in four meetings with Jelena Dokic on Monday afternoon.

Published June 20, 2011 12:00

Schiavone Survives Resurgent Dokic
Jelena Dokic, Francesca Schiavone

LONDON, England - In arguably the most intriguing first round women's match-up at Wimbledon this year, Francesca Schiavone used her all-court game to survive the powerful ground game of Jelena Dokic on Centre Court, 64 16 63.

Schiavone has always struggled at Wimbledon - coming into this year's event she was 11-10 here, a 52% winning percentage (her lowest of the four majors). On the other side of the net, Dokic was 17-7 here, a 71% winning percentage (her best of the four). With Schiavone falling early in Eastbourne and Dokic making the finals of 's-Hertogenbosch, it seemed an uspet was brewing.

After the No.6-seeded Schiavone tucked away a close first set, the prospects of an upset really began forming. Her serve and groundstrokes starting to hit their target, Dokic stormed through the second set in just 32 minutes; but Schiavone regained control of the match, coming out after a short rain delay at 1-all in the third set with her full arsenal on display, winning three straight games from 3-all.

"The rain delay was fantastic because at the start of the third set I couldn't understand why she was playing so aggressively and I couldn't move her. Something wasn't working," Schiavone said. "When they were putting the roof up, I went back to the locker room and spoke with Barazzutti. He told me something very important, to move her around more, so I came back better."

Schiavone had been 0-3 against Dokic going into the match, two of those matches coming way back in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, the third coming earlier this year in the first round of Kuala Lumpur, where Dokic won the title.

"I was not surprised how tough it was today," Schiavone said. "She can come back to the top. But tennis is a very special sport. You have to play every tournament at a high level for years and years. She might need more time. For example, today in the third set she had opportunities and didn't catch them."

"I will have to learn a lot from this match. It's very disappointing. Very, very disappointing. But I have to get over it quickly," Dokic said. "I did lose some momentum with the change in conditions, and she did a few things differently she didn't do until that point. But I lost momentum on my serve a little bit and that made quite a big difference. I felt I was playing better before the rain."

With her ranking in the 40s now, Dokic looked at the positives. "I'm in a very good position to be getting into all the events. I haven't been in that position for five, six, seven years. It makes things easier like that. I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do next. This loss will be hard to take, but I'll move on."

Also sneaking through on Court 1 before the rains came was No.2 seed and returning finalist Vera Zvonareva, who held off Alison Riske, a young American with an affinity for grass courts, 60 36 63. Riske had been 7-8 in WTA matches going into the match, 7-3 on grass and 0-5 on all other surfaces - and her all-court game began to shine in the second set, but Zvonareva got back on track from 3-all in the third, winning the last three games to seal victory.

It was a mixed bag for the other seeds in action on Day 1. No.12 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and No.19 seed Yanina Wickmayer advanced, while No.17 seed Kaia Kanepi, No.22 seed Shahar Peer and No.28 seed Ekaterina Makarova fell. Kanepi was a quarterfinalist here in 2010.

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