Dushevina Ousts Vinci, Schiavone's All-Access
Published October 17, 2011 12:00
MOSCOW, Russia - The last Premier-level tournament of the 2011 season got underway at the $721,000 Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Monday afternoon, with one of the home team players pulling off the first upset of the week.
Having missed three of her four scheduled tournaments since the US Open with knee and abdominal injuries, Roberta Vinci may have been ripe for the picking, and indeed the No.7 seed was picked off by Russia's own Vera Dushevina. Dushevina, who had won three of six prior meetings with Vinci already, rallied from 5-2 down in the first set and 4-2 down in the second set to win, 76(4) 64.
In other matches, Kaia Kanepi missed three match points at 60 53 but ended up beating Sara Errani in straight sets anyway, 60 75; Bojana Jovanovski won nine games in a row from 3-all in the first set to beat former Top 20 player Alona Bondarenko, 63 60; and Nadia Petrova blasted nine aces to beat Evgeniya Rodina in an all-Russian battle in the night session, 64 76(3).
Monday was also the day of the All-Access Hour, with some of the marquee names on the WTA meeting the Russian press. Among them was Francesca Schiavone, a champion here in 2009 and a late entry into this year's event.
"They gave me an opportunity to come here again and enjoy playing on these courts," Schiavone said. "I like the facilities. It's great to play in an Olympic stadium like this. The courts are perfect, fast but not too fast, so I can play my game and mix it up. I came here to enjoy my tennis but I'm also here to win."
Schiavone was also asked about her season - she probably won't repeat her first Top 10 finish from last year, when she ended the season at No.7, but at No.12 she seems to be on track to record her second-best year-end ranking.
"It's sad not to qualify for the Championships. I worked hard, I just didn't have great results. I couldn't play my best in the final of Roland Garros. The level right now is really high, and my year was just so-and-so. But it wasn't easy this year because last year was great. When you arrive at the top, it's harder to stay there. But I think next year I'll give you an even better year than last year."
The Italian also commented on the depth at the top of the game. "The level is always going up," she declared. "Usually it improves 10% every year, but now it's more like 15-20% every year. It's not Williams, Williams, Justine or Kim anymore - there are 10 or 12 of us who can make a big difference. If Serena plays me or Li Na, it's 50-50 now - before it was 60-40. It is different in the men - Djokovic, Rafa, Roger and Murray are at a different level than the rest."
Also meeting the press in Moscow was Agnieszka Radwanska. Coming out of the US Open she was a longshot to qualify for the WTA Championships; now, if she wins her first match this week, she will become the eighth qualifier.
"I went to Asia without any pressure. I thought I wouldn't have any chance to go to the Championships. I knew I had just a few more tournaments and nothing to lose, so I played really relaxed. I didn't really think about anything. And after the US Open I went home and had a little break, so I was happy to play again. I played better each match and was very surprised to win in Tokyo and Beijing.
"I had another week off last week so I hope to get some good practice here and keep fighting for points to qualify for the WTA Championships."