PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - Former World No.2 and two-time Grand Slam runner-up Vera Zvonareva recorded her first win in a year and a half on an undefeated day for Russians in the first round of the PTT Pattaya Open on Tuesday.
Zvonareva did not play after the Olympics in 2012 and not at all in 2013 as she dealt with illness and a right shoulder injury that required surgery. She returned to the court at the start of this season with first round losses at Shenzhen and the Australian Open and came into this week at No.992 in the world.
It would seem fitting that Zvonareva would get back on the winning track in Pattaya City, where she was triumphant in 2009 and 2010. And she did just that in beating Thai wildcard Peangtarn Plipuech, 63 62, to improve to 18-4 here.
The competition gets much stiffer in the second round on Wednesday in the form of fellow Russian and No.4 seed Ekaterina Makarova, who down 63 22 against Olga Savchuk reeled off seven straight games en route to a 36 62 64 victory and her first win in three tries against the Ukrainian.
Makarova's doubles partner and fellow Russian, fifth-seeded Elena Vesnina, also advanced in three sets. She defeated Vania King, 76(6) 67(5) 61, in a match that lasted eight minutes short of three hours.
"It was a very difficult match," Vesnina said. "I was a little bit nervous, maybe still a little bit tired from Melbourne, as I arrived at the last moment and didn't have a chance to get used to the different conditions. It's humid here and the ball flies differently, so I'm really happy that I won today."
Yet another Russian, qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva, also moved on but there was some bad news for Russians, with No.2 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova having to withdraw from her second round match against Julia Goerges because of a left hip strain.
"I am sorry I had to pull out of this event," Kuznetsova said. "This is a very nice event with good weather. I would love to play more but unfortunately my injury got worse last night. I like this tournament and look forward to coming back again."
"I hurt my shoulder yesterday during the match," Lisicki said. "It was pretty obvious that I wasn't able to serve in the second and third sets. I love this tournament so much, especially after playing in the finals last year. My goal was to win it this year. I tried everything. I was hoping it would get better overnight, but unfortunately it didn't.
"I played for the crowds here. I heard they were cheering for me. I really wanted to win for them, as I always have great support here. I look forward to coming back again next time."
Lisicki and Kuznetsova's withdrawals means the new on-paper favorite is third-seeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea, whose 61 63 defeat of Anna Schmiedlova snapped a six-match losing streak that dated back to last September.