Hantuchova Advances in Birmingham

Posted on June 13, 2007

BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain - Two of the Top 4 seeds at the DFS Classic were in action on Tuesday and both Daniela Hantuchova and Li Na made it through to the third round of the $200,000, Tier III event.

Hantuchova advanced to the round of 32 in Birmingham for the second time in her career, with a consummate display of grass court tennis against Belarusian qualifier Olga Govortsova. The No.3 seed from Slovakia was never placed under any serious pressure from her less experienced opponent and broke serve four times on her way to a comfortable 62 64 victory.

China's Li made harder work of her opening match, laboring to a 46 62 60 win over talented Russian teenager Yaroslava Shvedova. The start of the match saw the player's trade early breaks, before the 19-year-old Muscovite reeled off four of the last five games to capture the first set. However, from this point she won just two more games as the No.4 seed upped the tempo, racing through the next two sets to secure a third-round berth.

The first player to reach the third round on day 2 was Russia's Elena Likhovtseva, who edged out No.12 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 75 76(4). Her compatriot and No.16 seed Maria Kirlienko followed shortly after, bouncing back from the loss of the first set to defeat Nathalie Dechy, 57 62 60. No.16 seed Eleni Daniilidou also progressed, overcoming Australia's Casey Dellacqua 64 64 in an entertaining encounter out on Court 1.

Tuesday also saw the completion of the eight remaining first-round matches and one of the more surprising results involved No.11 seed Olga Poutchkova. The world No.32 failed to win a single game on her way to a crushing defeat at the hands of Angelique Kerber, whose reward for this polished performance is a meeting with America's Ahsha Rolle. Poutchkova's fellow seed Severine Brémond was another casualty, falling to a 46 63 64 defeat against Alicia Molik of Australia.

The three British wildcards in the draw enjoyed contrasting fortunes in their opening-round matches on day 2 of the tournament. Naomi Cavaday pulled off an impressive win over world No.61 Vasilisa Bardina and was rewarded for this victory with a second-round match-up with No.5 seed Marion Bartoli. However, fellow Britons Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong both suffered centre court heartache, losing tough three-set encounters with Milagros Sequera and Tamira Paszek respectively.

One of the success stories of this fledgling grass court season has been the return to the limelight of the 1992 DFS Classic champion, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy. However, the seven-match winning streak - which saw the 36-year-old capture the $25,000 ITF Tournament in Surbiton - was broken when she lost a tense encounter with Vania King, 76(7) 76(7).

Another player on the comeback trail is last year's runner-up Jamea Jackson. Right hip surgery has forced the talented 20-year-old to miss the majority of the 2007 season to date, but her return to Great Britain's second city was not a happy one as she lost 63 61 to Chan Yung-Jan.

Japanese rising-star Ayumi Morita was another first-round victor, overcoming experienced American campaigner Jill Craybas. Next up for the 17-year-old qualifier will be an intriguing clash with close friend and No.7 seed Ai Sugiyama.

Tuesday saw three first-round doubles matches take place at the Edgbaston Priory Club. Top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber made an effortless transition to grass after their run to the semifinals at Roland Garros, illustrating just why they were crowned Wimbledon champions two years ago, as they brushed aside the challenge of the Bondarenko sisters, Alona and Kateryna. Joining them in the quarterfinals will be No.3 seeds Vania King and Yan Zi, as well as the all-French pairing of Brémond and Dechy. (WTA)