Thursday, August 5, 2004

Sharapova wins opener to play Zvonareva next

The Associated Press

MONTREAL - Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova overcame some spotty serving and beat Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico 6-1, 6-4 Wednesday in her opening match at the Rogers Cup.

On a day in which Russian players were featured on center court, the largest crowd of the week turned out to see the 17-year-old Sharapova.

"It was a little bit up and down," she said. "I never expect to play my best tennis in my first match, but I did everything I had to do to win."

The sixth-seeded Sharapova advanced to a third-round meeting today with another of the many Russian players marking their mark on the WTA Tour these days - Vera Zvonareva, a straight-sets winner over Bethanie Mattek.

"She's very tough, very hungry," said Sharapova, who has split two previous meetings with Zvonareva, the 10th seed.

Fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva was upset 6-1, 6-4 by Gisela Dulko of Argentina, and eighth-seeded Nadia Petrova was beaten 6-4, 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 by Russian compatriot Elena Likhovtseva.

Third-seeded Anastasia Myskina, the French Open champion, was to play Wednesday night against Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain.

Dulko, a 19-year old WTA Tour rookie, added to her impressive string of upset victories.

"I played well from the baseline and served pretty well," she said.

"That was the key to the match. She's the best-ranked player I've ever beat, so yeah, it's one of the best wins of my career."

Dulko beat 47-year-old former world No. 1 Martina Navratilova at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year and also defeated Jelena Dokic at the All-England club.

In other matches, 13th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria defeated Martina Sucha of Slovakia 6-3, 6-7 (4-7) 6-4.

No. 14 Elena Bovina of Russia beat Lilia Osterloh 7-6 (7), 6-4.

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Sharapova wins opener to play Zvonareva next

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