Tennis

Lisicki, Kuznetsova win in NZ

2012-01-04 13:40
Sabine Lisicki (AP)

Auckland - Top seed Sabine Lisicki and third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame frustrating rain delays to advance to the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic on Wednesday while five seeded players were knocked out.

Lisicki endured a 90-minute delay for heavy rain that halted her momentum before she scratched out a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow German Mona Barthel.

Kuznetsova was forced off for 35 minutes with the score 30-30 while she was leading 5-1 in the second set against American teenager Christina McHale.

When the pair returned they warmed up for nine minutes before some stoic defence by McHale, who saved three match points. They played for another four minutes with the twice grand slam winner sealing the 6-1, 6-1 victory when McHale's forehand floated wide.

"It was strange, because it was a few points away and the game could have gone either way and it was difficult to maintain concentration but I think it worked out pretty good for me," Kuznetsova said in a courtside interview.

"I was playing well. I did have some unforced errors but I completed my game plan and I'm happy with my performance," she added after her demolition of the highly rated American, who had beaten the former world number two twice in the last year.

Lisicki also suffered a weather delay earlier on Wednesday. The 22-year-old had broken Barthel to take a 6-5 lead in the first set and seemed to be getting on top before rain swept across central Auckland and forced the players off.

They returned about 90 minutes later but the momentum the world number 15 had gathered before the rain dissipated and she was broken to force the set into a tie-break, which she won 7-3.

Barthel rallied to overcome a 0-2 deficit in the second set as neither player seemed to able to hold serve, and Lisicki's swinging second serve on set point down failed to find the centre line, forcing a decider.

Lisicki raced to a 3-0 lead in the final set and sealed victory on her second match point when Barthel's cross-court backhand smacked into the net.

"I improved from my last match, which I knew I had to," Lisicki told reporters. "I still didn't play consistently enough to win in two sets but the most important thing when you don't play your best tennis is still to find a way to win."

The other seeded players in the second round were not so lucky with only fourth seed Flavia Pennetta advancing to the quarter-finals after she beat Briton Elena Baltacha 6-4, 6-2.

Second seed Peng Shuai, fifth seed Julia Goerges, sixth seed Roberta Vinci and eighth seed Monica Niculescu all lost in the day session, while seventh seed and 2010 champion Yanina Wickmayer lost to Italy's Sara Errani in the night session.

Results on Wednesday from the ASB Classic women's tennis tournament on outdoor hardcourts at the Auckland Tennis Centre (seeding in parentheses):

Singles

Second Round

Svetlana Kuznetsova (3), Russia, def. Christina McHale, America, 6-1, 6-1.
Elena Vesnina, Russia, def. Roberta Vinci (6), Italy, 6-3, 6-4.
Flavia Pennetta (4), Italy, def. Elena Baltacha, Britain, 6-4, 6-2.
Sabine Lisicki (1), Germany, def. Mona Barthel, Germany, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.
Angelique Kerber, Germany, def. Julia Goerges (5), Germany, 6-2, 6-3.
Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, def. Peng Shuai (2), China, 6-4, 6-3.

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