Holder Kuznetsova wins, Ivanovic crashes in Stuttgart

Stuttgart: Svetlana Kuznetosva started her title defence at the Porsche tennis Grand Prix with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Katarina Srebotnik.

The third-seeded Russian Kuznetsova took 69 minutes for her victory Tuesday against Slovenia`s Srebotnik, who is 0-5 for the year in a difficult comeback from injuries.

Srebotnik, 29, was sidelined for eight months last year, mainly over Achilles tendon and shoulder problems. With a protected No 20 ranking due to the ailments, she has won only two out of 15 matches played since her return last autumn.

Not much better off is former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, who slumped to 5-6 in 2010 after back-to-back defeats against Polish fifth seed Agnieska Radwanska, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 on the day.

Ivanovic held the top spot after winning the French Open in 2008, but due to injury and low form has plunged to a current ranking of 57.

Kuznetsova won the French Open, Stuttgart and Beijing titles last year, but has yet to go beyond the fourth round in 2010.

On Tuesday she reeled off five unanswered games to win the first set and also dominated the second for her third win in the fifth match with Srebotnik.

“I was a little nervous because we have played some tight matches. The first games were important, then things went my way,” said the 24-year-old winner.

She next runs into China`s Li Na, who overcame Italian Sara Errani 6-1, 6-1 in 55 minutes.

Ivanovic`s last match until Tuesday was a second-round defeat against Radwanska last month in Miami. She was unable to reverse matters as both stepped onto the clay for the first time this year.

Radwanska blew a 5-2 lead against Ivanovic in the opening set, but raced from 3-3 to 6-3 in the tiebreak and took the set two points later with a little help from the netcord.

In the second, Radwanska ralled from 3-1 down and served out the match in the 10th game, winning when Ivanovic hit an easy forehand into the net.

“I am very happy to get the win in two sets in my first match on clay,” said the eighth-ranked Radwanska, who next meets Israel`s Shahar Peer, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 winner over Slovenia`s Polona Hercog.

Also Tuesday, the 2007 winner Justine Henin said she expected no major problems over her finger fracture when she plays Wednesday against German Julia Goerges.

The former world No 1 Henin, who came out of retirement this year, broke her left little finger during Fed Cup practice last week. She played, and lost, a Fed Cup match on the weekend as Belgium beat Estonia.

“The finger feels better and I have gotten used to the tape. It is still a little painful, but I am almost 100 per cent,” said the four-time French Open champion.

Bureau Report