Russia’s Maria Kirilenko defeated Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1 on Sunday in the first round of the $2 million Pan Pacific Open.
Sanchez failed to qualify for the tournament, but was given a place in the main draw when China’s Li Na withdrew with stomach pain.
Kirilenko was up 5-3 in the second set and looked to be on her way to a quick win but Sanchez fought back.
Kirilenko double faulted three times before Sanchez won the second set tiebreaker with an ace.
“She played well,” Kirilenko said. “It was a bit difficult in the second set. She was serving well but I just tried to stay calm.”
After breaking Sanchez three times in the final set, Kirilenko won with a crosscourt forehand that Sanchez returned into the net.
Top-ranked Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament on Thursday. Defending champion Maria Sharapova, the tournament’s 12th-seeded player, will face Kimiko Date Krumm on Monday.
In other first-round matches at Ariake Colosseum, Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 7-5 and Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova coasted to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
Estonian Kaia Kanepi beat Melanie Oudin of the United States 6-4, 6-4 and Andrea Petkovic of Germany downed Argentina’s Gisela Dulka 6-3, 6-1.
Morita crashes out
Ayumi Morita could offer little resistance to Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova on Sunday, losing 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open.
Morita tried to make a match out of it in the second set, being up 4-1 at point against the Bulgarian at Ariake Colosseum.
But Pironkova, who lost to Vera Zvonareva in the last four at this year’s Wimbledon, roared back, finishing off the local favorite in 1 hour, 39 minutes to advance.
“My first serves became wild after I went up in the second set,” Morita said. “I’ve been on the defensive lately, and I’ve got to change something in my game to turn it around.”
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