World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva came from a set down to advance to the third round, and the former No. 1s continued their struggles on Thursday in Melbourne at the Australian Open.
The Russian Zvonareva found herself a set down to Bojana Jovanovski before taking the pace and air out of the Serb’s balloon to win 6-1 in the third.
“She started off very aggressive,” Zvonareva said. “We never played before. So it got me some time to understand her game, to read her game…But I was able to pick it up and really turn it around in the second set. Then it was a bit easier for me. I mixed it up a little bit more, I changed a little bit my game.”
Following through with upsets Thursday were China’s Peng Shuai over No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, Czech Iveta Benesova ousting No. 18 Maria Kirilenko, Romanian Simona Halep defeating No. 24 Alisa Kleybanova, and France’s Alize Cornet downing No. 26 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, all in straight sets.
“I was leading I think 4-1 and had everything under my control,” Jankovic lamented. “I was playing pretty well. But then I just had some loose errors and she played as well some good points. And little by little, you know, she was getting her momentum, and I started completely going down…It was a bad day for me…It’s the beginning of the season, only my third match of the year. I’m still rusty. I just have to get match tough again and play right in the important times of the match. At the end, my opponent took her opportunities and was the better one.”
Top 10 seeds winning in straight sets Thursday were No. 3 Kim Clijsters, No. 5 Samantha Stosur, and No. 10 Shahar Peer.
“I went out there the with intention to stay very aggressive and to not let my opponent kind of play her game,” said Clijsters of powering past the claycourter Carla Suarez Navarro, “and that is try to really mix it up play with a lot of spin. She can only do that when she has a lot of time. I think it was really up to me to try to limit that from her, really be aggressive when I was out there, and I did.”
No. 13 Nadia Petrova powered past Aussie wildcard Alicia Molik 6-4, 6-1, and No. 31 Lucie Safarova won an all-Czech battle with Klara Zakopalova 7-5 in the third.
“I had a great start to the match,” Molik said. “I needed to make sure I kept that scoreboard pressure on. Nadia got back to 3-all. I could sense a real difference in the way she was carrying herself on the court. She became a lot more confident…I felt like I served pretty horribly today. Against a player like Nadia that returns very well, she always has, that was a given, that was just essential today and it wasn’t there…She hit the ball quite deep particularly off her returns. Rather than staying down on the ball, I think I lifted or lofted the ball so many times deep where I really pulled off. Those are the times I need to knuckle down and beat pace with pace and spin.”
Highlights of Friday play in Melbourne are (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (29) Dominika Cibulkova in a re-match of weeks ago when Cibulkova won, (11) Justine Henin vs. (23) Svetlana Kuznetsova, the injured (4) Venus Williams vs. (30) Andrea Petkovic, and Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges vs. (14) Maria Sharapova.
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