No.5 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears were ousted as the doubles event kicked off on Monday, but World No.4 doubles player Andrea Hlavackova slid through smoothly with Petra Martic.
WTA Staff

ROME, Italy - The first round of the doubles event at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia kicked off Monday, but for the two seeded teams in action it was a bit of a difficult start - they were both taken out.

Zhang Shuai and Zheng Jie, the No.8 seeds, were the first to fall, going 0/7 on break points and getting broken four times themselves to lose to Dominika Cibulkova and Monica Niculescu, 63 61.

Zhang and Zheng have had success together, reaching the semifinals of Birmingham last year in their first tournament - but in their only other tournament they lost first round in Madrid last week.

Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, the No.5 seeds, were the other upset victims, leading 5-3 in the first set with two set points but falling to Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova, 75 75.

Kops-Jones and Spears were one of the most successful doubles teams on the WTA last year, winning four titles: Carlsbad, Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka - they were even a match away from qualifying for the WTA Championships. They have six WTA doubles titles overall, with one in 2009 and one in 2011.

Another seeded team had to say goodbye on Monday as well, though they never took the court - No.3 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina had to withdraw from the tournament after Makarova suffered a left Achilles injury during her singles match earlier in the day against Melanie Oudin.

The highest-ranked doubles player in action, World No.4 doubles player Andrea Hlavackova, had the quickest win of the day, partnering Petra Martic to beat Eva Birnerova and Irina Buryachok, 60 61.

"Today was the first time for me and Petra to team up," Hlavackova said after the 46-minute rout. "After a very long time I was playing on the backhand side in doubles, so it was a new experience for me and I am very happy we took every chance and used every important moment to our advantage!"

Hlavackova usually plays with Lucie Hradecka, though the two play with other partners sometimes. "Lucie is not injured, she just has a different tournament schedule than me right now, so sometimes I play with different partners," she said. "It's okay for me - I try to pick partners I like and it's fun!"

The Czech's performance on Monday was particularly impressive given she was coming off back-to-back three-setters in both of her singles qualifying matches over the weekend. "It's very hard to recover from those two matches, in both of which I was cramping in my legs," Hlavackova commented. "But I just kept trying my best and today's easy match will help me recover for tomorrow, for sure."

Other winners were Katalin Marosi and Anna Tatishvili and Belarusian-American pair Olga Govortsova and Megan Moulton-Levy, who were down a set and twice down a break in the second set, and also down a match point in the match tie-break, but beat Chan Hao-Ching and Darija Jurak, 36 63 1311.

"It was a tough match, but both of us knew our opponents well and we stepped it up at the right moments," Moulton-Levy said after the match. "This was the first time Olga and I were playing together, so we had to figure each other out during the match, but Olga is rocking! It was such a pleasure to play with her. She is so positive out there and has an unbelievable game that matches my style well.

"Our previous commitments with other doubles partners fell through this week and we found each other two days before the sign-in deadline," the American added. "I'm very happy with what happened!"

And what about Moulton-Levy's regular partner, Lindsay Lee-Waters? "Linds is still playing - she got to the semis of Memphis this year - but she's playing a modified schedule right now," Moulton-Levy said. "She will also be in Brussels next week. But she's going to make more and more appearances!"