Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia

Five Russian women have advanced to the final 16 at the Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego. While former U.S. Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova staged the biggest upset on Tuesday, Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva made a successful return as the tournament’s three seed.

Kuznetsova, who is in a protracted slump, upset 8th seeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in a momentum-filled three set match. Svetlana’s hard court experience may have been the difference in the 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 triumph. Kuznetsova’s blistering ground game was too much for the heavy-footed Belgian. Kuznetsova will next face Sara Errani, a 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 victor over Olga Govortsova.

Zvonareva started smoothly but was forced to overcome a mid-match concentration crisis when she lost 5 of six games against Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in the 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 victory. The third set featured long baseline rallies where both players kept the ball deep in the opponent’s court until a short ball eventually opened the door for a winner.

Russian former world number one Dinara Safina took advantage of a listless start from Alona Bondarenko to advance behind a 6-1, 7-6(2) triumph. Safina, who has battled back injuries all season, reverted to her favored baseline play against the error-prone Ukranian. In the tiebreaker, Safina held her nerve and jumped ahead 6-0 before Alona got on the board in a too little, too late showing.

The top seeds Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur get into the fray today. Top seeded Jankovic will face tough Alisa Kleybanova, a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victor over fireplug Aravane Rezai, today. Kleybanova, a Russian, will be a tough opener for Jankovic, who, along with Stosur, had a bye into the round of sixteen.

The second seeded Stosur will open against American crowd pleaser Melanie Oudin, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over fellow American Jamie Hampton. Stosur will try to silence the crowd against the weak serving Oudin. Oudin is a ferocious competitor who relies on her tireless effort to wear down opponents.

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One of the biggest upsets in the first round was Yaroslava Shvedova’s three set win over hard hitting Nadia Petrova, 5-7,6-4, 6-1. Once again Petrova failed to be competitive in the key third set.

7th seeded Israeli Shahar Peer out gunned wildcard Ana Ivanovic 7-6,(3), 6-3. Ivanovic started on fire, jumping to a 3-0 advantage before the Israeli got untracked.

6th seeded Marion Bartoli was not as fortunate, falling 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to Daniela Hantuchova. Daniela played some of her best tennis of the year in registering the upset.


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