Russia’s Elena Dementieva became the latest high-profile casualty at the Pan Pacific Open when the third seed was upset by Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round yesterday.
The Olympic champion was beaten 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 to leave the US$2 million Tokyo event shorn of its top three seeds, and she was quickly joined at the checkout counter by fourth seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki, who retired with a viral infection.
Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova had no such problems, however, powering into the last 16 in Tokyo with an almost flawless 6-0, 6-1 victory over Australia’s Samantha Stosur.
Current No. 1 Dinara Safina, second seed Venus Williams and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova all lost their opening matches on Monday after first-round byes.
A tournament, which began with nine of the world’s top 10, was down to just two before the close of play yesterday.
Sharapova, 25th in the world rankings following shoulder surgery a year ago, answered the prayers of tournament organizers by overpowering 12th seed Stosur in just 57 minutes.
Stosur at least avoided the dreaded “double bagel” by saving two match points at 0-5 in the second set, but the Russian wrapped up a clinical victory with an ace two minutes later.
Sharapova next faces countrywoman Alisa Kleybanova, who knocked out sixth seed Vera Zvonareva 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in another Russian clash.
Beaten US Open finalist Wozniacki walked off court in obvious discomfort after losing the first five games of her match against Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak.
Jelena Jankovic advanced after beating Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
In doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and Japan’s Kimiko Date Krum were defeated 5-7, 6-3, 7-10 by Gisela Dulko and Nadia Petrova.
Evgeny Korolev bid farewell to Frenchman Fabrice Santoro with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7) opening-round victory that knocked the veteran out in his final appearance at the Thailand Open yesterday.
Seventh seed Santoro, 36, who came to the court with a 2-0 record over the Russian a decade and a half his junior, was unable to convert on three match points in the final-set tiebreaker.
Fighting back from 1-4 down in the decider, the French ace whose double-handed attack has befuddled several tennis generations of opponents missed on his trio of winning chances. Korolev answered with a forehand to the corner for victory.
The Frenchman played his first Challenger tournament in Cherbourg in October 1988, when Korolev was just eight months old.
Santoro, the world No. 39, will retire in November at the Paris Bercy event. His defeat in just under three hours of struggle at the Impact arena marked his fourth straight loss in the first round.
Santoro earned his last victory in a 13-16 season in his opening match in New Haven a month ago before exiting early at the US Open and last week in Metz.
Austrian sixth seed Jurgen Melzer secured easy passage over Brazilian Marcos Daniel 6-3, 6-2, while Andreas Beck, one of six Germans who began on the autumn ATP Asian tournament swing, beat France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 7-6 (7/1). Switzerland’s 30-year-old Marco Chiudinelli followed up on a surprise US Open third-round place by reaching the second round with a defeat of Germany’s Florent Mayer 6-3, 6-3.
American third seed Sam Querrey pulled out of the tournament after undergoing emergency surgery for a freak arm injury sustained after a practice session, organizers said yesterday.