/ 2 August 2006

Sharapova overcomes slow start to prevail, Hingis wins

Second seed Maria Sharapova overcame a slow start against fellow Russian Vasilisa Bardina before reeling off 10 of the last 11 games to record a 6-4 6-1 second-round victory at the Acura Classic on Tuesday.

Earlier, eighth seed Martina Hingis marched into the third round with a 6-2 6-3 win over American Meilen Tu.

In search of her first title of the summer hardcourt season, Sharapova fell 4-1 behind to the feisty 18-year-old qualifier before warming to the task of winning the match.

”I felt pretty good after she broke me early,” Sharapova told reporters.

”I felt like I made her play a little bit after that and when she was serving at 70mph, I took advantage of that. I was moving well, seeing the ball well.”

Bardina surprised Sharapova when they began their warm-up by starting at the net and also called for a trainer to treat a shoulder injury when trailing 4-1 in the second set.

”She pulled all the tricks out of her bag except for the win,” Sharapova added.

”I don’t know anything about her except that every time I see her dad, he walks barefoot. I think that’s cool.”

Routine victory

Two times champion Hingis, who is making her first appearance at the tournament since 2001, mixed up her strokes adeptly against the veteran Tu in a routine victory.

It was the Swiss’s first match since she was upset in the third round of Wimbledon by Japan’s Ai Sugiyama at the end of June.

”Coming off a long layoff, it’s never easy,” the former world number one said after her victory over an opponent who beat her in the 1994 US Open junior final.

”You feel like you can train forever, but once you get in a match you feel rusty. I didn’t play my best tennis, but it will come with matches. I know that I can play better than what I played today. But it was a solid performance.”

Hingis, who returned to the tour in January, more than three years after announcing her retirement due to injury and burn out, was also presented with the tournament’s Corina Morariu Comeback Award.

”When [the court announcer] was talking all about my past and what I’ve achieved, it kind of reads like a fairytale,” Hingis said.

”It’s one part of my life, and then I was doing other things. Now I’m back here. I feel like a rookie more than a comeback.”

Other seeded winners included number seven Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, who destroyed Spain’s Virginia Ruano-Pascaul 6-1 6-0.

Number 11 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia advanced when Czech Kveta Peschke retired from their first round match with a thigh injury when trailing 6-1 4-0.

Number 15 Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia thrashed France’s Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0 in another opening round encounter.

However, not every seed fared so well.

Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who recently captured the Cincinnati title, upended 13th seed Sugiyama 6-1 7-5 in a first round tie, and Elena Vesnina of Russia took out number 10 Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 3-6 6-3 6-3. – Reuters