Goerges Wins Opener, Kerber & Ivanovic Too
Published May 14, 2012 12:00
ROME, Italy - On her first day as Germany's No.1 player Angelique Kerber had to fend off a fierce challenge from Anastasia Rodionova, just one part of a dramatic Day 1 at the Premier-level Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
The No.12-seeded Kerber's new status as German No.1 - as well as her new career-high ranking of No.11 - put a target squarely on her back, as she had to fight back from a set down and early breaks in the second and third sets to make it past Australian qualifier Rodionova in a dramatic battle, 46 75 62.
"It was very tough conditions because some of the court had shadows, some was sunny, and it was windy," Kerber said. "And Anastasia played very well - I was just thinking to fight and play point by point, and I'm very happy I won.
"I love playing on red clay. I grew up on it. Last week the blue clay in Madrid wasn't so bad, I made the third round, but it's good to be back on red!"
Kerber was also pleased with her new ranking and German No.1 status, though her focus is on the process, not the rewards. "Of course I'm very happy to be the new No.1 in Germany and have my career-high too, but I actually just try to keep improving my game and my personality, and we'll see what comes."
No.13 seed Ana Ivanovic also faced some resistance but lifted her game at the biggest moments, converting on all five of her break points to beat former World No.2 and two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 64 63.
"It was difficult at times and the gusts of wind would come out of nowhere, but it was the same for both of us," Ivanovic said after the match. "I just tried to move and adjust to it, and look at the ball and move forward when I needed to."
The only other seed in action on Day 1, No.10 seed Francesca Schiavone, wasn't as fortunate, suffering a 63 64 loss to Ekaterina Makarova at night. Italy's No.1 player, Schiavone has now lost 10 of her last 12 matches.
There were some dramatic results elsewhere, with Julia Goerges missing match point in the second set but closing out Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak out in the third, 61 67(1) 63; Chanelle Scheepers letting a 5-2 second set lead slip away and needing seven match points to finish Jarmila Gajdosova, 64 76(3); and Iveta Benesova dropping seven games in a row from 64 53 up but regrouping in the third to beat Yanina Wickmayer, 64 57 76(5).
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Christina McHale, Shahar Peer, Vania King and Sofia Arvidsson also won on Day 1. McHale turned 20 three days ago, leaving 19-year-olds Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens as the only teens in the Top 100 (they don't turn 20 until next year).
Arvidsson scored a 63 62 win over María José Martínez Sánchez, who won this title two years ago and subsequently cracked the Top 20, but who has also been struggling the last few months with a thigh injury - in fact this was her first singles match since she played at Indian Wells in early March.