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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sania fights back to enter third round

Sania fights back to enter third round

March 15, 2008 09:49 IST

Sania Mirza entered the third round in the Pacific Life Open, beating Ukraine's Olga Savchuk in a late match on Friday.

The Indian ace, seeded 21, fought back after losing the first set to clinch a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Sania, who got a bye into the second round, and her American partner Bethanie Mattek, seeded seventh, had beaten Poland's Klaudia Jans and Gabriela Navratilova 6-3, 6-2 in a first round doubles match on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, defending champion Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and fourth-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova breezed through their opening matches.

Hantuchova swept past American wildcard Angela Haynes 6-1, 6-2 in windy conditions at the Indian Well Tennis Garden before Sharapova crushed French qualifier Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-1, 6-0.

Second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova also cruised through her first encounter, overpowering fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-1 in only 53 minutes in an evening match.

Hantuchova, who won the tournament for a second time by beating Kuznetsova in last year's final, broke Haynes three times in each set to seal victory in just over an hour.

"That felt great," the fifth seed told reporters. "It was an incredible feeling to be back on the center court."

The 24-year-old advances to a third round match with China's Zheng Jie, who upset 30th-seeded Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-4.

"It definitely feels like it's my home out there," the Slovakian added. "I wish I could play every match of the year on this court. I don't know what it is. I guess it's the bounce. It's not too slow, not too fast."

SWIRLING WIND

The only problem for Hantuchova on a sun-drenched day was the swirling wind.

"It was very, very tough," she said. "In a wind like this, you never know what to expect.

"It evens the match, really, because even though you might hit a good shot, it can still go out or it can be too short. I'm very glad how I handled the conditions."

Sharapova, who claimed her third Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, broke Cohen-Aloro twice in the first set and three times in the second to wrap up the match in 58 minutes.

"This has been an incredible start to the year and it's great to be playing in my second home of California," said the Russian, who is unbeaten in 15 WTA matches this season.

"A couple of weeks ago we were playing a tournament in Doha and I've never played tennis in so much wind," she added. "You get used to it and it was the same for my opponent."

In other matches, eighth-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia scraped past American Jill Craybas 7-6, 7-5 and Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 7-6.

Peng Shuai of China crushed Italian Karin Knapp 6-1, 6-3 to set up a third-round encounter with Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Ukrainian Mariya Koryttseva 6-1, 7-6.

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