Kirilenko Wins; Hantuchova Falls in Tokyo

Posted on January 31, 2007

TOKYO, Japan - First round action kicked off on Tuesday at the $1.34 million Toray Pan Pacific Open. Daniela Hantuchova became the week's first seeded casualty, losing to Italian qualifier Robera Vinci in straight sets, 64 64. Ana Ivanovic and Li Na, the only other seeds in action, advanced to the second round.

Vinci's serve-and-volley style, unique among her peers on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, proved extremely effective against the No.8-seeded Hantuchova; she won two thirds of the points on her serve. The Slovak was also solid on her delivery, but gave up breaks late in each set en route to defeat.

"I had one bad game in each set when I was broken," said Hantuchova, who was coming off a fourth round showing at the Australian Open. "Vinci already had three matches in the qualifying rounds, and she played really well."

Vinci's win over the 18th-ranked Hantuchova serves as her fifth Top 20 victory; two of the prior four came over the Top 10, namely Anastasia Myskina and Patty Schnyder, both during the 2005 season.

Ivanovic, seeded No.5, needed 53 minutes to dispatch American Shenay Perry, 64 62, while No.6 seed Li crushed another American, Lilia Osterloh, 63 62.

Three other first rounds took the court. Francesca Schiavone beat Japanese wild card Erika Takao, 75 75; Severine Brémond defeated fellow Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, 60 62; and Nicole Pratt outlasted Meghann Shaughnessy, 67(4) 61 64.

The 19-year-old Takao was happy with her effort against Schiavone, who was recently ranked as high as No.11 but has now dipped somewhat to No.25.

"I would have loved to play Maria Sharapova, and of course I'm disappointed to lose," lamented the Japanese teen, "but being able to compete so well against a player ranked so high, this gives me confidence going forward."

The doubles draw also kicked off, and it was not a great start for the seeds; both of the seeds in action were sent home in straight sets, namely No.3 Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama (who fell to Jelena Jankovic and Bethanie Mattek) and No.4 Shaughnessy and Vera Zvonareva (to Elena Likhovtseva and Elena Vesnina). (WTA)