Schiavone Slides To Victory In Marrakech

Former Top 10 players Daniela Hantuchova, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta all played their first round matches on Wednesday, but only two of them survived - which one was ousted?

Published April 24, 2013 12:00

Schiavone Slides To Victory In Marrakech
Francesca Schiavone

MARRAKECH, Morocco - The first round wrapped up and the second round began at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Wednesday. Three former Top 10 players played - who won?

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The first one to take the court didn't - Daniela Hantuchova, a former World No.5, was outlasted in a three-hour, three-minute marathon by Olga Puchkova, winning a routine first set but then dropping a 71-minute second set and a 67-minute third set against the hard-hitting Russian, 36 76(5) 75. It was about as close as they come in the end - Hantuchova won 115 points during the match, Puchkova 117.

"We were both fighting for it and it was really up and down out there, but I think I really took my chances," Puchkova said after the match. "In the first set I think I went for too much and made some unforced errors, but then the next two sets I just focused on running for every ball and not going for too much, and staying patient, and it worked for me. I'm really happy about getting the victory today.

"I knew Daniela was coming from playing Fed Cup in Russia and it was a really tough transition for her, but it was also my first match of the year on clay courts, so it was tough for both of us."

Next up for Puchkova is Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, who won her first round match here on Tuesday.

"That will be tough - Spanish girls are really good on clay," Puchkova said. "I'll just go out there and play my game. I just have to play smart and not go for too much, and we'll see what happens."

Former World No.4 Francesca Schiavone followed them onto Centre Court, playing Petra Martic in another first round match. And it was a doozy as well, with the No.6-seeded Schiavone saving three set points in the first set tie-break - two at 4-6 and 5-6, then another at 6-7 - and eventually battling past the aggressive young Croat in a competitive two-setter in an hour and 51 minutes, 76(8) 64.

"I think I was playing really well until 4-1 in the first set, but I started missing some shots," Schiavone said. "It's not easy to stay focused because the ball flies a little bit, and you have to pay attention on every point. It's easier to make the points but also easier to make an error, so you really have to focus hard and find the right balance. But I'm happy I was able to do that today and win the match."

Schiavone was asked about her goals going forward - she's currently ranked No.48, but as mentioned before is a former No.4. "There's always a 4, but it's a little bit different!" she joked. "I had one really tough year in my life, but now it's time to move past it and see some new matches out there.

"I'm hoping to keep working hard and improving my results again."

The Italian was also looking forward to seeing Marrakech. "It was a great choice for me to come here. I'm very curious about the city. Some friends of mine came here and told me things I have to see."

Finally, former World No.10 Flavia Pennetta took Centre Court and beat Melinda Czink, 61 76(2), rallying from 5-1 down in the second set - and firing six aces in that second set - to get the win.

The only other first round match of the day saw Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva rally from 3-1 down in the first set and 4-2 down in the second set to beat Mathilde Johansson in straight sets, 63 64.

The first two second round matches saw Chanelle Scheepers follow her first round upset of No.2 seed Sorana Cirstea with a 62 61 win over María-Teresa Torró-Flor, and No.3 seed Alizé Cornet win nine games in a row from 61 54 down to beat Italian qualifier Karin Knapp at night, 16 75 60.

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