Pavlyuchenkova, Bartoli and Schiavone advance into 2nd round in Tokyo

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In one of the closest games of recent times, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, now ranked at 37, battled on court for close to three hours to close out her match against the up and coming Kazakhstani player Yaroslava Shvedova, finally capturing  a 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win. The veteran Italian, now 32 and one of the older competitors on the WTA tour, fought hard to come back from 1-3 down in the second set to force a tie breaker which she won and then went on to take the third set.

On the subject of veterans, the remarkable Japanese player Kimiko Date-Krumm, who took a twelve year retirement before coming back to the WTA tour and who will turn 42 in four day’s time, took on the French player Marion Bartoli, who is seeded ninth in this tournament. Bartoli raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set before Date-Krumm held her own serve to love to get on the scoreboard. However, the Frenchwoman comfortably served out the first set and took it with a 6-1 scoreline. The second set was much closer, with Date-Krumm showing some great delicacy at the net but, in the end, she could not handle Bartoli’s strong ground strokes and went down 6-4.

The Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has had a very up and down season so far and is ranked at 25, took on the 28 year old South African Chanelle Scheepers, a late bloomer who only broke into the top 100 in 2011 and who is rapidly climbing the rankings list and is now number 53. Once again, Pavlyuchenkova blew hot and cold before eventually winning 6-4 4-6 7-5 after two hours and forty minutes on court, where an enormous number of double faults by both players – Pavlyuchenkova 20 and Scheepers 7 – characterised this match.

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