Rezai falls, Kuznetsova advances in Marbella tennis
Marbella: France`s Aravane Rezai fell at the first hurdle at the WTA Andalucia Tennis Experience tournament, suffering a straight sets defeat in the first round to Spanish wildcard Estrella Cabeza.
Third seed Rezai, ranked 24, went down 6-3, 6-0 against 258th-ranked Cabeza who had lost her only previous meeting with the French player in Palermo five years ago.
Russia`s Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to the second round but not without the second seed dropping a set to qualifier Mona Barthel at the 220,000-dollar event.
Former US and French Open champion Kuznetsova was led by a set and 4-1 by the German before digging deep to win through 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
"For me it takes maybe two weeks to prepare for clay properly, and there just wasn`t time," said Kuznetsova.
"I was expecting to hit more winners and it wasn`t happening because this is clay. But I knew that if I kept fighting things might go my way, and I`m happy that I was able to do it."
Meanwhile, Rezai`s serve was broken five times as the Frenchwoman could only convert one of her nine break point chances.
"Although she was one of the seeds and that she hits the ball well, I knew that she hadn`t been in great form," said 24-year-old Cabeza after the biggest win of her career. "I tried to take advantage of that."
Russia`s Dinara Safina avoided a similar fate as she advanced despite dropping her opening set before seeing off Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
"It`s good to finally win one," said Safina, who had been 0-3 in three set matches this year. "Everything she hit was landing in, on the line. But I hung in there and the moment she thought that she could win she got tight and started to miss shots. So I think at the crucial moment my experience played a big part and helped me to win."
Fifth seed Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Spaniard Maria Teresa Torro with home hopes Lourdes Dominguez and Lara Arruabarrena also advancing to the next round.
Hungary`s Agnes Szavay continued her return from injury with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Swede Johanna Larsson, and next meets Kuznetsova, with top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus playing her first round tie Wednesday against Spain`s Arantxa Parra Santonja.