ACAPULCO, México - The Italian trio of Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta and Sara Errani was unstoppable in Acapulco on a blistering Tuesday, all moving into the second round of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL in straight sets.
The No.1-seeded Vinci was the first to advance, showing some hesitations late in the second set but managing to close out Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, 62 76(5). Vinci was up a break three times in the second set but was broken every time, including while serving for the match at 6-5 - she then had to rally from 4-2 down in the tie-break to finish off the tenacious Soler-Espinosa in straight sets.
"It was a tough match but I'm happy I won," Vinci said after the match. "When I was up a set and 2-1 I was a little bit nervous, and it was so hot too, so I had to fight a few things. It was very different in Monterrey last week, it was much colder - but now I have all day to rest and prepare for tomorrow."
Vinci is the top seed at a WTA event for the third time in her career, after Budapest last summer (she won the title) and Monterrey last week (she lost second round). "It's not easy, but it's okay," she said about being the favorite. "You have a lot of pressure on you but I just try to focus on each match."
The No.3-seeded Errani had a simpler go of things in her match, taking 67 minutes to beat young American Irina Falconi, 61 61. "It's better to make it quick as it's very hot here," Errani said. "I played a good match. The bounce is very high here so it helps to play with a lot of spin and move your opponent around. I hope to continue playing like this for the rest of the week."
Errani was particularly happy with the tournament venue: "This is the best tournament of the year. I've always said this about Acapulco. It's just incredible here. You can go to the sea, the beach... it's really just incredible."
Pennetta, the No.2 seed, fired seven aces and saved nine of the 10 break points against her to defeat last year's Acapulco runner-up, Arantxa Parra Santonja, 64 62. "I wasn't playing my best tennis but was fighting for every ball, and I started to play better as the match went on," Pennetta said afterwards. "It wasn't an easy match out there today but I'm happy I made it through."
Acapulco has been a great tournament for Pennetta in the past, in fact her best - she is now 29-5 in her career here, having won the title twice (2005 and 2008) and reached another four finals (2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009). She has more wins here than anywhere else, with Palermo second on her list with 24.
"It's amazing to be back here," Pennetta said. "It feels like I'm at home here, and maybe that's why I always play so well when I come here."
Maybe home is the best place to celebrate one's birthday, but for Pennetta this could be the next-best thing - she had her special day here over the weekend. "It was nice to celebrate my birthday in Acapulco," she commented. "I had a nice dinner with my good friends, had a cake, got some presents... my family aren't here but many of my good friends were so it was a good time."
The other two seeds in action had mixed results, with No.5 seed Alexandra Dulgheru up a break in both the second and third sets but eventually losing out to Magdalena Rybarikova, 26 75 76(3), and No.6 seed Johanna Larsson having the same situation but reversed, rallying from a break down in both the second and third sets to beat qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva, 16 64 63.
Sofia Arvidsson, Michaella Krajicek, Anna Tatishvili, qualifiers Edina Gallovits-Hall and Mariana Duque-Mariño and lucky loser Estrella Cabeza Candela were also among the winners as first round play wrapped up.
There was some disappointing news earlier in the day however, as the defending champion, Gisela Dulko, who was seeded No.7 here, had to pull out of the tournament: "I'm so disappointed to have to withdraw from Acapulco. As defending champion, I was really excited to come back and defend my title here this year, but unfortunately I have picked up a gastrointestinal illness and will be unable to compete today. I'm so sorry not to be able to play in front of the wonderful fans here in Acapulco. I am really hoping I can play doubles tomorrow and will keep my fingers crossed that I can recover in time."