Eastbourne: Serena Returns With Win
Former world number one Serena Williams has crowned her comeback with a hard-fought victory over Tsvetana Pironkova whom the American edged in three sets, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. The world number 26 will next meet Vera Zvonareva.
Despite a very poor start, which showed Williams conceding most of her services, the 29-year-old managed to come from behind and stun the Bulgarian winning the last two sets. Her next opponent Zvonareva, winner of this term’s Doha event, has made an easy progress after upsetting Heather Watson 6-3, 6-3 to set her eighth meeting with the American. The head to head series between the two have gone 6-1 to Serena who last defeated the world number three at the 2010 Wimbledon Grand Slam.
Russian’s two victories date from the 2004 San Diego tournament and the 2006 Cincinnati Masters respectively. Said Zvonareva of tomorrow’s big clash: “It’s great to have those great champions back. They have done a lot for women’s tennis and for women’s sport in general. When one of them is on the other side of the net, you’re playing against a great champion. You always enjoy matches with them. They bring excitement and attention to the game.”
On the second half of the table, Li Na has also made an easy progress when she ousted Tamira Paszek of Austria 7-5, 6-4. The French Open champion is to meet Daniela Hantuchova in the next term. The Slovak eliminated Jie Zheng of China 6-4, 6-4 to set her fifth meeting ever. The head to head series between the two have gone 2-2, with the last victory belonging to the world number four who beat Hantuchova at the 2010 Australian Open. World’s number 25 last win dates from the 2007 Indian Wells Masters.
Venus Williams, who is also present at the English event, is to set another tough clash with the former world number one Ana Ivanovic whom she’ll be playing in the second term. The American edged this year’s Strasbourg champion Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 to set her eighth rendez-vous with the world number 18. The Serb eased past Julia Gorges 6-4, 6-3 in the first term, but will have some hard times against the American who leads the head to head confrontations 6-1.
Venus’s last win dates from the 2009 Wimbledon event, while Ana last defeated the 30-year-old at the 2008 Australian Open Grand Slam. On the same half of the table, Francesca Schiavone is to face Agnieszka Radwanks in the second term. The Italian eliminated Kaia Kanepi 7-6, 6-1, while her next opponent edged Jarmila Gajdosova 7-6, 7-5. The world number seven Milan born has defeated the 13th-ranked Polish player four times in the previous six meetings, last occasion at the 2010 Australian Open.
This will also be their third meeting of the year as the previous two have both been taken by Radwanksa who last defeated the Italian at the Stuttgart tournament. Winner of three tournaments this year,including the Brisbane, Paris and Madrid Masters, Petra Kvitova has moved on in Eastbourne when she defeated Anastasija Sevastova in three sets, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.
The Czech will next meet Ekaterina Makarova of Russia who also needed three sets to progress. Makarova overcame Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to set her first meeting with the Czech. Marion Bartoli, who is still chasing her first title of the season, has set a fourth clash with Maria Jose Martinez of Spain after edging Lucie Safarova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Her next opponent Martinez ousted Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-3, being expected to chase her second win against the French who last defeated the world number 72 at the same Eastbourne event back in 2010.
This year’s Marbella and Miami Masters champion Victoaria Azarenka has also qualified for the second term after eliminating Shuai Peng in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 to meet Elena Baltacha. The Scott eased past Aravane Rezai 6-2, 6-1 and will meet the Belarusian for the first time ever. Finally, Bojana Jovanovski and Samantha Stosur will fight for a quarter final berth. The Serb defeated this year’s Monterrey winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-4 in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, while her next opponent eliminated Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-4.11