Stuttgart - Former champion Nadia Petrova advanced to the second round of
the Porsche Grand Prix on Tuesday by fighting off German qualifier Dinah
Pfizenmaier 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
The eighth-seeded Russian Petrova laboured to victory in 1 hour 43 minutes
over the 150th-ranked Pfizenmaier, who has won two titles on the second tier
ITF circuit this year.
"It is all about experience. She played very well and I had to fight
until the end," Petrova said.
Petrova, 30, won the Stuttgart event in 2006 when it was held in autumn on
hard court. It is now played in spring on clay as one of the first major
tune-up for the French Open starting in late May.
Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic Baroni ousted Russian Elena Vesnina 6-0,
6-4 and now meets second seed Li Na.
Former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic was to play local Andrea Petkovic,
while German fans would also be rooting for Sabine Lisicki against Italian
qualifier Nastassja Burnett.
Seven players from the current top 10 have gathered in Germany, led by title
holder and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, the 2011 Roland
Garros winner Li, local hope Angelique Kerber, and the 2012 Paris Grand Slam
runner-up Sara Errani - who all have a first-round bye.
Errani, 26, arrived in Stuttgart a day later than planned after Italy's
rain-delayed Fed Cup semi-final triumph against two-times reigning champions
Czech Republic on Monday.
"I am a bit tired but happy to be in the Fed Cup final (against
Russia)," Errani told reporters.
The seventh-ranked Errani has already won on her favourite surface in
Acapulco this year and hopes to further boost her morale ahead of Paris with
good showings in Stuttgart, Barcelona, Rome and Madrid.
Errani was a surprise finalist at Roland Garros last year despite earlier
2012 clay titles in Acapulco, Bucharest and Barcelona. She also reached the US
Open semis and has three grand slam doubles titles with compatriot Roberta
"There is more pressure this year because of the ranking. But I am only
thinking about my tennis," she said.
Errani is in the lower half of the Stuttgart draw. She could meet Li Na in
the semis and Sharapova - who has won all of their four previous meetings,
including the 2012 French Open final - in the final.
Coming off the Indian Wells title and Miami final, Sharapova arrived in
Stuttgart at the weekend for her clay season debut. She hopes to be as dominant
on the dirt as last year, when she triumphed in Stuttgart, Rome and Paris, the
latter title completing a career grand slam.
"I want to get my feet into the groove (on clay)," the Russian
said at a sponsor event Monday. "I had a great season on clay last year,
and got a lot of confidence (from the title) here."