Hantuchova shocks Azarenka in Doha

Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 09:13 AM IST

Doha: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus became the second seeded player to crash out of the Qatar WTA Open when she was upset by Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in three sets.

The sixth seeded Azarenka followed Agineszka Radwanska out of the tournament after the Polish star was beaten by the Czech Republic`s Lucie Safarova on Monday.

Glamour girl Hantuchova, who won her fourth WTA title at the Pattaya Open earlier this month, came back from a set behind to beat Azarenka 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

She now has a second round clash with qualifier Russian Vera of Russia who defeated Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/1).

Hantuchova, a 10-year WTA veteran had gone without a title for almost four years before she defeated Sara Errani in Pattaya, finishing the tournament without dropping a set and even claiming the scalp of defending champion Vera Zvonareva along the way.

But she was coming to Doha after suffering a first round loss to Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in the first round in Dubai last week, and for the first 40 minutes on Tuesday looked like taking another tumble at the first hurdle.

But the Arizona-based Azarenka failed to capitalise on her lead with an error-prone display in the second set and once Hantuchova found her footing there was simply no stopping her as she won the next two sets with ease.

"It was a tough match today," said Hantuchova.

"I knew I had the confidence and the experience to come back even after losing the first set," the Slovakian said.

Earlier, Svetlana Kuznetsova suffered the humiliation of a first round defeat to Shahar Peer just 48 hours after finishing runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in Dubai.

The Russian former US and French Open champion paid the price for an error-prone display as the eighth seeded Israeli largely dominated to post a 6-2, 6-4 win.

Kuznetsova appeared to be dogged by a foot problem and received court-side treatment during the second set, but failed to come up with the consistency to match the determined Peer, currently ranked 12th in the world.

On a cool afternoon at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Peer had three breaks in the first set as opposed to Kuznetsova`s one as she established early control to take the first set with ease.

And although the Russian had a few moments of inspiration by securing the first break in game five to take a 3-2 lead in the second set, Peer only had to hang on to whatever chances came her way and wait for her rival to make mistakes.

Peer broke back in the very next game to draw level and then won her service game to take a 4-3 lead from where she never looked back. Struggling to stay in the match, Kuznetsova had to keep her serve in the 10th game, but she put the ball wide twice to hand the match to Peer.

Meanwhile, Chinese players had mixed luck in the first round. While Peng Shuai defeated Switzerland`s Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 6-2, Zheng Jie was beaten by Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.

Bureau Report