London: Second seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia survived a major scare to beat Alison Riske 6-0 3-6 6-3 in the first round at Wimbledon Monday.
Last year`s runner-up motored through the opening set in 25 minutes, overpowering her 20-year-old opponent.
But the world number 115 fought back in the second, clinching her first game with a strong volley which was met by an eruption of cheers from the crowd.
At two games apiece the American, playing with a red, white and blue racket, mustered her fastest serves of the match to power two aces past Zvonareva.
A wide crosscourt backhand from 26-year-old Zvonareva, who played much of the match in long sleeves despite the humid weather, gifted Riske a break and put her ahead at 4-2.
Serving for the set, nerves seemed to get the better of Riske, who mis-threw the ball twice before double faulting. But she soon overcame them, securing the set after Zvonareva netted a return.
Despite taking an early 2-0 lead, Zvonareva continued to struggle in the decider with Riske, sensing the chance of a major upset, quickly breaking back to keep the game tally level until 3-3.
But for all Riske`s efforts Zvonareva, who seemed to be expending much less energy than her opponent, broke ahead at 5-3 and cruised through the final game to polish the match off with an ace which Riske did not even attempt to return.
"I`m really happy I was able to pull it off in the end," said Zvonareva.
"She played some good tennis but I tried to stay focussed. I had some ups and downs but I`m really happy.
"I lost my concentration for a bit but I always fight for every point and I was able to pick it up in the third set."
Zvonareva will play compatriot Elena Vesnina in the second round.