Errani & Li Win Openers In Sydney
Published January 07, 2013 12:00
SYDNEY, Australia - There were two former Top 5 stars in the qualifying draw of the Apia International Sydney, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kimiko Date-Krumm - and not only did both of them make it into the main draw, they both won their first round matches on Monday at the Premier-level tournament.
Watch live action from Sydney all week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.2 playing just her second tournament back after missing six months with a knee injury, battled over two hours to get by Julia Goerges, 16 63 63, surviving seven aces and winning just one more point in the match, 95 to 94.
"To beat a player as good as Julia right now is amazing," Kuznetsova said. "I missed some easy forehands and didn't serve too well in the first set but I'm happy I improved in the second and third sets."
Despite her win over the World No.18, Kuznetsova downplayed any immediate expectations.
"I've played four matches in the last four days - I'm playing matches, which is what I came here for," Kuznetsova said. "But even though I feel like I'm already used to being back, before last week I hadn't played since Wimbledon, so right now my main goal really is just to get more matches.
"You can't be at your best in just your second or third tournament, so the Australian Open isn't my goal. I'm just trying to work hard, play matches and find my game again. I want to improve every day.
"I can do a lot better than what I'm doing right now."
Date-Krumm, who made it as high as No.4 in the 1990s, broke away from 4-all in the first set against Casey Dellacqua, winning eight of the next nine games to put the Australian wildcard away, 64 61.
The two highest seeds in action both won, though one had it far tougher: No.3 seed Sara Errani needed 51 minutes to outclass Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova, 61 63, while No.4 seed Li Na took more than two hours to edge Christina McHale, 76(2) 75. The only other seed in action was No.8 seed Nadia Petrova, who served for both sets but ended up falling to Roberta Vinci and her eight aces, 75 75.
Li is now 6-0 on the year, having won five matches en route to the International-level title in Shenzhen last week, from which she arrived in Sydney yesterday. But it was mind over matter for the Chinese.
"It's very tough because in China it was like five or six degrees, but here it's over 30," Li said. "And the jet lag - it was tough today. After finishing my match my legs felt like 200 kilos. I couldn't move.
"Yesterday my coach told me the most important match was today, because today it wasn't really about technique, it was about challenging my mind to show how strong I am on the court."
Jelena Jankovic and qualifiers Ayumi Morita, Galina Voskoboeva and Madison Keys also won their first round matches during the day session. Seventeen-year-old American Keys pulled off a big surprise, outdoing World No.17 Lucie Safarova, 62 61, for the first Top 20 win of her young career.
The first round ended at night as Zheng Jie beat No.6 seed Sam Stosur, 63 67(7) 64, missing a return off a kick serve at match point in the second set breaker then coming from 3-1 down to win the third.