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By Gokul Pillai
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After a first set that last for almost 30 minutes, the former world number one raced away to a 3-0 lead in the second set and then lost momentum. Tanasugarn sprung to life, breaking in the fourth game and then snatching five off the next seven games to level at 5-5.
Sharapova struggled and then managed to break again and then took away the match with an ace on match point. Sharapova said, “I served really well today. It was important for me to serve well because she reads the ball really well. I had a bit of letdown in the second set. She started playing really well. I was glad I was able to come back and win it in two sets.”
Seventh-seeded Marion Bartoli of France and both prominent Serbians, eighth-seeded Jelena Jankovic and 12th-seeded Ana Ivanovic recorded opening wins. Sharapova said the players are happy to be a part of this event following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
She mentioned, “The commitment the players have shown is incredible. With nearly a full draw, I think the players have shown their dedication.” The annual WTA Tour tournament is normally outdoors, but late-morning rain forced the closure of the roof over the main court and suspension of play on outdoor courts.
Bartoli snatched a win against Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-3, 0-6, 6-3, and Jankovic went past Czech, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-2. Bartoli came through in a baseline battle in-spite of a sweep in a second set. She wrestled past Morita with strong backhands in the final set. Morita turned erratic at the same time which resulted in her defeat. Serving to stay in the match, Morita staved off four match points before succumbing.
Qualifier Mandy Minella of Luxembourg went past Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, and Ivanovic beat qualifier and Australian, Anastasia Rodionova 6-4, 6-0.
U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia opens Tuesday, facing Maria Kirilenko of Russia or Erika Sema of Japan and Caroline Wozniacki will be playing Jarmila Gajdosova in the first round on the same day as Stosur.
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