Dominka Cibulkova of Slovakia, ranked at number 14 and seeded 5th at the Kremlin Cup tournament being played in Moscow this week, started off proceedings on centre court in the massive but almost empty Olympic Stadium on Tuesday against Moscow’s Ekaterina Makarova, now ranked at a career high 20. The Slovak raised the champion’s trophy last year, but in the first set she looked anything but a champion as the Russian broke her in the first game and held her own serve before Cibulkova got going to level at 2-2, but Makarova went on a winning streak and took the next four games and the first set 6-2. In the second set, Cibulkova raced to a 3-0 lead before Makarova held for 1-3 and later levelled at 4-4 before Cibulkova to the set 6-4. The third set saw Cibulkova build a 4-0 lead and only let Makarova win two games before sealing the set at 6-2.
Another Moscovite Anastasia Pavlyuchenko, ranked at 35, took on Kazastan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, now number 29 on the WTA rankings list, having ended 2011 at number 208. Shvedova’s great season in both singles and in doubles continues and this match proved to highlight her talent, as she totally outplayed a sluggish Pavlyuchenko, taking the first set 6-2 and the second set by the same margin.
In a marathon night match yet another Moscovite Nadia Petrova, ranked at 13 and seeded 6th, took on the Roumanian Simona Halep, ranked at number 48. Petrova won the title in Tokyo two weeks ago and on Tuesday came out looking strong, serving well and going for the lines. Halep pushed her in the middle of the first set after having a medical time out to have her knees taped, but Petrova held on to take the set 6-3. The second set saw Petrova begin a string of double faults, while Halep began reading Petrova’s game better and, after a few breaks, the players reached 5-5, when Halep took the bull by the horns and broke the Russian to go 6-5 ahead and then hold to take the set 7-5. The decider began with lots of breaks of serve to 4-4 when Petrova went 5-4 up, only for the Roumanian to level at 5-5. She then broke Petrova and held her own serve to take the set 7-5 in a match which lasted 3 hours and 9 minutes.
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