Third-seeded Li Na of China was eliminated in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday.
The 11th-ranked Li lost 6-4, 6-2 to 2006 champion Anna Chakvetadze.
In the men’s first round, fifth-seeded Radek Stepanek beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 7-6 (5), 6-3. In a tight match, the 37th-ranked Czech prevailed on a first-set tiebreaker and broke decisively in the eighth game of the second set to serve the match out.
Sixth-seeded Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan also advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina.
Chakvetadze broke twice in the first set for a 5-2 lead. Li, who managed to put in only 30 percent of her first serves in the first set, narrowed the gap to 5-4, but Chakvetadze saved four break points in the next game before clinching the set. Chakvetadze dominated the second set, breaking Li twice.
“I wasn’t the favorite for the match,” Chakvetadze said. “I played free and easily. I’m happy I made it.”
Li said she “wasn’t feeling so good on the court” but could not explain why.
“I can’t come up with an explanation, unfortunately I just lost today,” she said.
Li entered the event on a wild card, hoping to strengthen her position as the first reserve player for next week’s WTA Tour Championships in Doha. The loss could hamper her chances of a maiden appearance at the event.
“I think Doha was playing on my mind, so I was nervous,” Li said. “I’m feeling pretty disappointed right now. I just have to wait and see what happens, it’s not in my hands anymore.”
Li is just five points ahead of Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who is seeded second at the Kremlin Cup and has a first-round bye.
Azarenka, who qualified for the championships last season, will play Andrea Petkovic of Germany in the second round. Petkovic rallied to beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus 0-6, 7-5, 6-0, also on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the seventh-seeded Alisa Kleybanova of Russia battled into the second round with a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (1) win over Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.
Three-time champion Nikolay Davydenko tops the men’s draw of the 21st edition of the event. Jelena Jankovic, who won in 2008, is the top-seeded woman.
James Blake made it through to the second round of the Stockholm Open after coming from behind to beat seventh-seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Bellucci twice broke an error-prone Blake to take the first set.
Wild card Blake found his rhythm in the second, breaking Bellucci in the fifth game and holding serve.
The US’ Blake, who won the Stockholm Open in 2005 and 2006, eventually prevailed after breaking Bellucci in the ninth game of a closely-fought final set.
“It was really tough for me getting used to his serve,” Blake said. “It was tough getting used to that pace, but once I did I felt really comfortable.”
It was a disappointing day for Spain’s seeded players, with Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez both losing.
Germany’s Florian Mayer brushed aside sixth-seeded Lopez in only 55 minutes 6-2, 6-2. Mayer broke Lopez in the very first game and three more times in the match in a dominant performance.
“Everything went perfect,” Mayer said. “I got an early break today so he never got into the match.”
Eighth-seeded Robredo was swept by Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-2, in little more than an hour. It was a lackluster performance from world No. 42 Robredo against a player ranked 90 places lower.
Taylor Dent of the US will face top-seeded Roger Federer in the second round, after Poland’s Michal Przysiezny had to retire from their match with an ankle injury. Dent was leading 6-2.
Germany’s Benjamin Becker beat Thomas Schoorel of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-0, to set up a second round match against Sweden’s Robin Soderling.
Also, Arnaud Clement of France defeated Belgium’s Olivier Rochus 6-0, 6-4 and Robin Haase of the Netherlands beat Sweden’s Filip Prpic in three sets 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4.
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