ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva continued her career resurgence at the 2019 St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, where she needed two sets to upset the always-dangerous Ekaterina Makarova in the first round.

Back in action as a WTA regular after injuries kept her away from the game for nearly two years, Zvonareva started out season strong with a semifinal run in Shenzhen. In St. Petersburg against former doubles World No.1 Makarova, Zvonareva showed flashes of her vintage form that saw her reach two Grand Slam finals.

Zvonareva hit six aces on her way to claim a confident first round win and emerge victorious from the all-Russian encounter, winning 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 15 minutes.

Photos: Regal in Russia: Previous St. Petersburg winners

“I knew that the match would be very tight, but I think that for the first match I performed well,” Zvonareva told press afterward. “I was able to complete those tasks that I had and probably thanks to this fact I won the match.

“I tried to create moments, to play actively. It was a general game plan. There were some details that I changed during the match.”

Makarova started the match with confidence, quickly creating break chances at 2-1. She wasn’t able to convert, but she got it done at the next opportunity to claim an early lead at 3-2.

Zvonareva got the break straight back after showing off her impressive court coverage, leveling the score at 2-2. She kept the pressure on her opponent, and was rewarded by another, decisive break at 5-3. Zvonareva served out the set with confidence, firing two aces to take it to love.  

Makarova got on the scoreboard first in the second set to stop Zvonareva’s run of four games in a row, but wasn’t long before she was under pressure again. Zvonareva claimed the decisive break at 3-2.

Things got a bit complicated as Zvonareva went to serve it out, getting behind 15-40 in the final game as Makarova tried to spark a late comeback effort. But the Russian former World No.2’s serve bailed her out of trouble once again, saving both break points and sealing her spot in the second round.

For Makarova, the loss extends her singles losing streak to six matches in a row, a disappointing trend which dates back to her US Open third-round loss back in August.

Up next for Zvonareva, she’ll take on the winner between No.5 seed Julia Goerges and on-the-rise Greek player Maria Sakkari.

Zvonareva, who sealed her return to the WTA’s Top 100 after her Shenzhen performance, told press after the match that she is relishing the chance to work her way back up to the top.

“Of course, it’s nice to be back in the Top 100 best tennis players in the world,” Zvonareva admitted. “But I began to think that when I grew out of juniors, the transition to a professional level happened very quickly: in 3-4 months I got into Top 100, and not long after into Top 50.

“Now, I am going through this long journey anew: this journey that I skipped in my youth.”