Favorites Move Ahead, King Keeps Winning
Published March 09, 2012 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The seeds came marching in at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday, and it didn't take long for the first big upsets - earlier in the day No.12 seed Jelena Jankovic fell to 22-year-old American Jamie Hampton, and later in the day it was another young American springing the upset, as 23-year-old Vania King took out No.13 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
King, who had beaten Pavlyuchenkova in their last two meetings, got off to a slow 0-3 start but quickly found her rhythm against the Russian, winning 11 of 14 games for a 64 52 lead then closing it out two games later, 64 64.
"In our last couple of matches, from the start she would try to overpower me - obviously she's stronger than me," King said, "but today she was kind of just putting the ball in the court. The conditions were pretty difficult. I was kind of forcing at the beginning, then I started to slow it down and make her play more.
"I think that she doesn't like my game style - I think that's fair to say. She's obviously a great player. If I went into the match and played badly, I'd lose."
Top 10 players went 5-0, with No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka edging Mona Barthel, 64 67(4) 76(6); No.3 seed Petra Kvitova beating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 61 63; No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska beating Sorana Cirstea, 62 64; No.8 seed Li Na rallying to beat Galina Voskoboeva, 36 63 63; and No.9 seed Vera Zvonareva taking out Kimiko Date-Krumm, 63 64.
Kvitova and Li had lost their openers at Indian Wells last year, but both have since shot into stardom with their first Grand Slams, and didn't lose this time.
"It's always tough to play Barbora because we're friends and she's very nice, but I'm happy how I played today," Kvitova said after the match. "I knew my tactics coming into the match and did well. I'm feeling good about my game."
"I was always losing first round here the last few years and really didn't want to do it again," Li commented. "I played her in Fed Cup in China and it was also a tough match. At the beginning today she was hitting the ball so hard!"
Zvonareva is a former champion here, winning the title in 2009. "I watched this tournament on TV when I was younger, so to have won here is an incredible achievement," she said. "When you win an event like this, it's always very special to come back. Only a few players have won here and to be among them all, to see yourself on posters and everything, it's a really cool feeling."
The Russian also had kind words about her veteran Japanese opponent: "It's been a few weeks since I last played and your first match is never easy, but Kimiko is such a great fighter, and even though she's probably the oldest player on the tour, she's one of the fittest. She's always a tough challenge and I'm really happy I overcame a slow start and finished it in two sets."
Other seeds moving on were Julia Goerges, Angelique Kerber, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Flavia Pennetta, Zheng Jie and Christina McHale. Daniela Hantuchova and Yanina Wickmayer both lost.