Schiavone Cruises In New Haven Opener

Francesca Schiavone saved all four break points against her to beat Alexandra Dulgheru at the New Haven Open at Yale.

Published August 21, 2011 12:00

Schiavone Cruises In New Haven Opener
Francesca Schiavone

NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - The two best Italian players of all time took to the courts of the New Haven Open at Yale on Sunday, but just one of them was able to move through, as the first round kicked off at the Premier stop.

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Francesca Schiavone, the No.3 seed at the Premier-level tournament, was the first to play and had no trouble with Alexandra Dulgheru, never losing serve en route to a 72-minute, 61 62 victory over the tenacious young Romanian.

Flavia Pennetta also played but came out on the losing end of an all-unseeded battle with the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova, coming out strong with a 5-2 lead and three set points but losing her way mid-match and falling, 75 62.

Schiavone and Pennetta are the only two Italian players ever to break into the Top 10, Pennetta becoming the first in 2009 (peaking at No.10) and Schiavone joining her in 2010 (going as high as No.4). The 31-year-old Schiavone is still in the elite at No.8, while the 29-year-old Pennetta is currently No.25.

Silvia Farina Elia was Italy's highest-ranked player ever before Schiavone and Pennetta came along, reaching No.11 in 2002 at the age of 30.

In the only other main draw match of the day, Romania's Monica Niculescu beat Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova handily, 63 62. Next up for Niculescu will be Schiavone. Schiavone leads Niculescu in their head-to-head series, 2-0.

Petra Cetkovska, Ksenia Pervak, Vera Dushevina and Anastasia Rodionova all secured berths in the main draw with wins in qualifying.

Schiavone is one of four Top 10 players here this year, alongside Caroline Wozniacki, Li Na and Marion Bartoli. Wozniacki is going for a piece of history here this week - having won this title in 2008, 2009 and 2010, she is trying to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the same WTA title four years in a row, and the first since Venus Williams won here 1999 to 2002.

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