Kuznetsova Wins, Schiavone Too
Published March 06, 2013 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - They're both Grand Slam champions, both former Top 5 players, both trying to work their way back up the rankings - and they both won at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone looked very sharp as the first round kicked off.
Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No.2 now at No.46 after missing the second half of 2012 with a knee injury, went five-for-five on break points to beat Andrea Hlavackova, 63 61.
"At the start of the match I was able to get the break quite early as she made a few mistakes, but then I was a bit slow, and I gave her the chance to get back into the match," Kuznetsova said. "But then I started to play my game again and move better, and I managed to control the match after that."
Kuznetsova's No.46 ranking is deceptively impressive - she fell out of the Top 80 in the Australian season, so to be in the Top 50 just a matter of weeks later shows she is on a fast track back up.
"I'm happy to be back - this is the main thing," Kuznetsova said. "Every day I just try the best I can and things are coming along pretty well. I feel really balanced within myself, which is important, and I actually have my dog here in Indian Wells, which is great! I'm a happy person, I do my favorite job, and we're here in this nice place with a lovely view and great weather. It's everything we need."
Next up for Kuznetsova is the No.18 seed, Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic leads the head-to-head, 6-5, and is also coming off a strong week in Bogotá, where she captured her first WTA title in three years.
"I haven't played her for years so it's going to be a very interesting match - a very tough match, of course," Kuznetsova commented. "I remember that her down-the-line backhand was quite good and normally her movement was good, but I haven't seen her play for a while, so we'll see how it goes."
Schiavone, a former French Open champion who has been as high as No.4 in the world, came into this fortnight just a spot below Kuznetsova at No.47 - but a quarterfinal run in Acapulco last week showed she is back on the right track, and the fightback she showed against fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday night showed it too - she won nine straight games from 5-3 down in the first set to take complete control of their encounter, 75 50, and eventually sealed it two games later, 75 61.
"Flavia has just come back from an injury so I had a few more matches behind me going into today," Schiavone said. "This time, the match was for me. The first set was really tough, and then in the second set I had a little bit more confidence. But I feel better - my level is definitely going up."
The bar is raised in Schiavone's next round though, as she faces the No.2 seed, Maria Sharapova. "I'm happy to play against Maria in the next round and have a chance to play at a high level," she said. "
Like just about every player on tour, Schiavone is thrilled to be playing at Indian Wells. "I feel like this place is paradise for us," the Italian veteran commented. "The club is big, the hotel has all the facilities we need, and the people here really love their tennis. It's just a great tournament here."
Other winners were Christina McHale, Lourdes Domínguez Lino, Simona Halep, Chanelle Scheepers, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Olga Govortsova, Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, Johanna Larsson, Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino, Ksenia Pervak, qualifiers Lesia Tsurenko and Mallory Burdette and wildcards Maria Sanchez and Shahar Peer. Domínguez Lino and Govortsova were the biggest comeback winners of the day, the Spaniard staving off a point for a 61 52 deficit and beating qualifier Grace Min, 16 64 63, and Govortsova rallying from 4-2 down in the third set to beat Mandy Minella, 62 36 64.