Bondarenko Advances in Turkey; Venus On Tap Today

Posted on May 22, 2007

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Alona Bondarenko and Agnieszka Radwanska were the only two seeds in action in the first round of the Istanbul Cup on Monday, defeating Pemra Ozgen and Ekaterina Bychkova respectively. The $200,000, Tier III event is one of the final tune-up events before Roland Garros and every player in the draw will be eager to get time on court with the year's second Grand Slam less than a week away.

Ukrainian No.1 Bondarenko has been in a rich vein of form since the start of the European clay court season, reaching the final in Warsaw, as well as credible last 16 performances in both Berlin and Rome. The No.5 seed made a fantastic start to the match, breaking Ozgen at the first opportunity, before wrapping up the first set in just 25-minutes. Things got even worse for the Turkish wildcard entrant in the second set, as she won just seven points on her way to a crushing 61 60 defeat.

Monday saw contrasting fortunes for the Bondarenko family however, as Alona's younger sister Kateryna was bundled out of the tournament, by 21-year-old Italian Romina Oprandi. The match was a scrappy affair with eight breaks of serve and the same number of double faults, but it was Oprandi who held her nerve to advance to a second-round meeting with No.7 seed Radwanska after a 64 64 victory.

Radwanska was made to work considerably harder for her place in the second round than her fellow seed, requiring two hours to overcome Russia's Bychkova, 75 75. The 18-year-old from Krakow enjoyed a wonderful breakthrough season in 2006 - including a run to the last 16 at Wimbledon - but has found success harder to come by in 2007. After early exits in both Warsaw and Rome, the first-round victory will have given the Pole a valuable confidence boost ahead of Roland Garros.

Three other singles matches took place on Monday, and two of the victors were rewarded for their performances with second-round encounters with the tournaments top two seeds. Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova will be No.1 seed Maria Sharapova's opponent after she battled past Belarusia's Olga Govortsova, 64 26 62. On the other side of the draw Croatia's Jelena Kostanic Tosic also required three sets to squeeze past Yaroslava Shvedova, 26 63 64 and set up a meeting with Elena Dementieva. Elsewhere France's Aravane Rezai eased past Israel's Tzipora Obziler 63 61 to secure her place in the second round.

The doubles competition also got underway in Turkey and it saw a minor shock when No.4 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Ipek Senoglu crashed out at the hands of Mihaela Buzarnescu and Ekaterina Dzehalevich. The seeded pairing had looked all set for a comfortable passage into the quarterfinals when they raced through the first set, but the unseeded team had other ideas, hitting back to take the second set before coasting through the match tie-break.

Monday also saw the completion of the final four matches of the qualifying competition. Georgia's Anna Tatishvili caused a minor upset by ousting No.8 seed Buzarnescu in a thrilling encounter, 76(5) 57 76(6); she was joined in the main draw by Anastasija Sevastova, Ekaterina Afinogenova and Dzehalevich.