Li & Sharapova Breeze Into Second Round
Published June 21, 2011 12:00
LONDON, England - No one has won more Grand Slam matches than Li Na this year, and for the time being that stat will stand strong. The 29-year-old Chinese trailblazer continued her impressive Grand Slam season on Tuesday with a 63 63 first round win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva at Wimbledon.
Li, who became Asia's first Grand Slam finalist at the Australian Open in January (losing in the final to Kim Clijsters) and Asia's first Grand Slam champion at the French Open a few weeks ago, wasn't at her best with more errors than winners, but was able to outsteady Kudryavtseva for her 14th win at a major this year (six from Australia, seven from France, one here).
"At the beginning of the match she had a huge, big serve, and she was also playing more flat, which is tough on grass," Li said of Kudryavtseva. "I never knew what shot was going to come or was going to happen next and I had to run a lot. But I was able to stay focused until the end of the match."
Kudryavtseva's biggest win came right here three years ago, a second round stunner over Maria Sharapova. Later in the day, Sharapova joined Li in the second round, cruising past former Top 5 player Anna Chakvetadze, 62 61.
"It was great to be back on Centre Court, considering I didn't play a warm-up tournament," said Sharapova, who had withdrawn from Birmingham due to illness. "I played against an opponent who has been Top 10 before. She hasn't had the best results this year, but you don't quite know what to expect. I was sure she'd come out and have nothing to lose. I thought she played a really good match, and I really had to step it up. I did a pretty good job of that."
The No.3-seeded Li and No.5-seeded Sharapova weren't the only top seeds to move on. No.4 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.8 seed Petra Kvitova, No.9 seed Marion Bartoli, No.11 seed Andrea Petkovic and No.14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova were also among the first round winners Tuesday.
Two Top 16 seeds were defeated, namely Samantha Stosur and Jelena Jankovic. Stosur, the No.10 seed, fell first round at Wimbledon for the second year in a row, losing to Hungary's Melinda Czink, 63 64; Jankovic, the No.15 seed, lost to former Top 20 player María José Martínez Sánchez, 57 64 63.
Czink scored her second Top 10 win, her first coming against then-Top 10 player Nadia Petrova at Charleston a few years ago. It was also her first match win at the WTA level since Miami last year. Jankovic had not lost first round at any Grand Slam in over six years, since the 2005 French Open.
No.18 seed Ana Ivanovic was also among the winners on Day 2 of play.