With the first match nerves out of the way, Ana Ivanovic is optimistic that she'll find her rhythm today in her second round match at the ASB Classic.
Yesterday, she had to battle in both sets to defeat American Alison Riske 7-5 7-6 in just under two hours and only sporadically did she show her best.
Riske put up a better fight than people would have anticipated and hoped for, but the former world No 1 believes that now she's got a singles game under her belt in Auckland she'll be an improved player against Johanna Larsson from Sweden today.
“I thought it was a good match, she played really well, was aggressive and we had quite a few long rallies,” Ivanovic said.
“I was down a break in both sets, so I was very pleased with the way I came back. I kept composed at the important moments so I was happy to finish in two sets.
“It's so important to get that first win,” she added.
“I was nervous going on court today because I knew it was going to be a tough match for me.
“I was really pleased with the way I moved on the court and served, it was a good way to start the tournament.”
There were worries midway through the second set when Ivanovic twice had treatment on her right shoulder, but she said it wasn't anything serious.
“It was a mix of wind and nerves, so I had some mishits, I felt it a little bit,” she said.
“I'm going to have massage and physio, it just feels a bit tight.”
Ivanovic has won two of her previous three matches against Larsson, with the only defeat coming at the French Open in 2011.
“The last time we played was at Indian Wells and I won,” she said.
“I am going to speak to my coach and make a bit of a plan.
“But it's very important for me to apply my game and what I've worked on and hopefully have another good one.
“This match today really helps me step on court freer [today].”
It was another day full of drama at the ASB Tennis Centre and for New Zealand more disappointment with Marina Erakovic going down 6-1 6-4 to American Lauren Davis.
It is the fourth time Erakovic has failed to make it past the first round at this tournament.
Earlier in the day third seed Sorana Cirstea crashed out, losing to qualifier Sharon Fichman from Canada 6-1 6-4.
Playing out on court four, the world No 22 from Romania never got into the match against Fichman, who was in her fourth match of the week.
By rights, the world No 116 shouldn't get close to someone of Cirstea's quality, but it's often said that those who come through qualifying at the Classic are at an advantage because they've got matches under their belt and those higher ranked come into the main draw cold.
That's an excuse 2010 tournament winner Yanina Wickmayer could use as she also lost on court four to a qualifier, to Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 6-0.
Also going out was the No 6 seed Lucie Safarova from the Czech Republic, who lost 7-6 6-3 to Japan's Ayumi Morita.
One seed who didn't have any problems yesterday though was the No 3, Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium.
Her first round opponent, Monica Puig from Puerto Rico, was one of the tougher unseeded players she could have drawn, with the 20-year-old regarded as one of the best young players on the circuit. Flipkens managed to take the match in two tight sets, 6-4 7-5.
“The first match of the season is always quite difficult,” Flipkens said afterwards.
“But I had a good feeling on the court and what was most important for me was to have no pain on the knee, which I succeeded in."
The Belgian has been suffering from patellar tendon inflammation and has spent the last eight weeks rehabbing it.
“Winning didn't really matter today,” she said.
“Of course, it's good to have an extra match going into the Aussie Open in a few weeks, so I'm feeling alright.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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