TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova has already qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global in doubles, but the former World No.25 is determined to match those efforts in singles; the unseeded newlywed got off to the best possible start at the Tashkent Open, upsetting No.8 seed Andreea Mitu, 7-5, 6-3.
"It was tough for me as I had not played singles for six weeks. I retired from Seoul in the first round and find myself lacking in singles practice," Shvedova admitted after the win. "It was a good match and helped me regain some confidence."
The two-time Roland Garros quarterfinalist looked on course to an easy victory in the second set, racing out to a 5-0 lead on Mitu, who had a French Open breakthrough of her own this season, reaching the fourth round.
"Being 0-5 down, she had nothing to lose and started playing aggressively, swinging balls and hit a few winners, but then I put myself together and finished the match."
The 28-year-old also won her two major doubles titles in 2010, winning Wimbledon and the US Open with Vania King; after a long season full of doubles success, Shvedova admited it's tough to transition back to the discipline where she first made headlines.
"You have to only cover half the court in doubles and suddenly when you have to play singles it gets tough to cover the entire court. But now that I have made it to Singapore, I would like to concentrate on singles and try to improve my ranking."
Shvedova reached the US Open doubles final with regular partner Casey Dellacqua, but it was a bittersweet accomplishment for the Kazakhstani, who was forced to postpone her wedding to play eventual champions Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. Playing her second tournament since getting married, she noted, however, that little has changed for her on the court.
"It's nothing different except that I'm now playing with a ring on my finger."
The action was white-hot on Tuesday, particularly between WTA Rising Stars Bojana Jovanovski and No.7 seed Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko was coming off a run to the Coupe Banque Nationale final, but the Serb earned a crucial break in the final set to upset the Latvian, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
"The first round is always tough for me here; I have not played for nearly four weeks and was not in match practice," Jovanovski said in her post-match press conference. "But I love these courts and as the match wen by I started getting my rhythm. My experience also helped me to get though."
Up next for Jovanovski is compatriot Aleksandra Krunic; the two have played twice before and both matches have gone the distance. Krunic snapped a seven-match losing streak in a big way on Tuesday, taking out WTA Rising Star Anett Kontaveit, 6-2, 6-4. Kontaveit matched Krunic's 2014 effort at this year's US Open, reaching the fourth round as a qualifier.
Top seed Annika Beck beat Ostapenko to win the title in Québec, and showed no signs of a let down against fellow WTA Rising Star, Elizaveta Kulichkova. The German beat her younger opponent, 6-3, 6-1, and will next play 2014 Family Circle Cup finalist Jana Cepelova, who took her opening round match over hometown favorite Sabina Sharipova, 6-2, 6-1. Other winners included Korea Open Tennis runner-up Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who upset No.3 seed Polona Hercog, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, No.5 seed Katerina Siniakova, who beat Polish qualifier Paula Kania, 6-2, 7-6(5), and 2012 Tashkent Open finalist Donna Vekic, who beat Kiki Bertens, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
Local wildcard Nigina Abduraimova was one of the biggest surprises of the day; the tall Tashkent native took out former World No.42 Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-0, to set up a second round encounter with No.4 seed Johanna Larsson, who beat qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 6-3, 6-3. Evgeniya Rodina and qualifier Kateryna Kozlova both won their first round matches against Urszula Radwanska and Klara Koukalova, respectively.