PALERMO, Italy - It was a grinder of a day on Thursday as the second round wrapped up at the XXVI Italiacom Open - and not all of the favorites who took the court survived that grinder of a day, either.
Roberta Vinci, the No.2 seed at the International-level clay court tournament, was probably the luckiest one, the only player to win in straight sets - the Italian rallied from a break down four times in the second set and even fended off a set point down 6-5 to close out Polona Hercog, 62 76(3).
"It was a very tough match - Polona's a great player," Vinci said. "In the first set I was playing very well, very aggressive - but in the second set she started to play much better than in the first set. We had long, difficult points, and things were getting really tough, but at the end I won a great second set."
Vinci is coming off a strong showing at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round before falling to Li Na - it was her fourth time making it through to the second week at the last five Grand Slam tournaments.
"After I was finished there I came back here and it was so nice because I live here and practice at this club," Vinci said. "Of course it's always a great feeling to play this tournament in front of these fans."
She's already No.1 in the world in doubles, but she's also No.11 in the world in singles - is breaking into the Top 10 in the individual discipline a goal? "Being in the Top 10 is definitely one of my goals," she said. "I hope I can do it, but it's tough. The difference between Top 10 and No.11 is a pretty big one.
"But the year is long. We'll see where I am in the end."
The next-highest seed in action wasn't so fortunate, though. Kristina Mladenovic, seeded No.3, fell in a second round thriller against Estrella Cabeza Candela, 63 26 76(6). Mladenovic fought off three match points to close from 3-6 to 6-6 in the third set tie-break, but Cabeza Candela closed it out.
The other two matches were marathons too but the favorites escaped both times, with No.4 seed Klara Zakopalova rallying from a break down in the third set to edge Karin Knapp, 63 46 64, and No.5 seed Lourdes Domínguez Lino grinding past Italian rising star Nastassja Burnett in three too, 75 46 63.