Thu, Feb 24, 2011 - Page 19 News List

TENNIS: Kuznetsova foiled in Doha opener

AP, DOHA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Swiss tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka returns against Pablo Andujar of Spain during their Mexican Open match in Acapulco on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was ousted in the first round of the Qatar Open by Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday.

Kuznetsova, two days after losing the final in nearby Dubai to new No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, looked a shadow of herself and appeared to struggle with a foot problem for which she received courtside treatment in the second set.

The eighth-seeded Peer broke the Russian six times, sending Kuznetsova out of the Doha first round for the first time. She was runner-up in 2004 and 2007.

Victoria Azarenka’s poor start to the year was extended when she lost to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Azarenka, ranked ninth, has only one quarter-final appearance in four tournaments this year.

The other seed in action, No. 5 Jelena Jankovic, handled Oman wild card Fatma al-Nabhani 6-1, 6-3.

Kaia Kanepi of Estonia withdrew because of a fever, leaving Chinese qualifier Peng Shuai to beat Swiss lucky loser Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 6-2. Other winners included Flavia Pennetta of Italy, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, qualifier Vera Dushevina of Russia, and another lucky loser, Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.

DELRAY BEACH

AP, DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA

Second-seeded Mardy Fish of the US advanced to the second round of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Tuesday when German Bjorn Phau retired from their first-round match while trailing 0-5.

Fish, who won the Delray Beach title in 2009, took 20 of 26 points in the 20 minutes he spent on court. Fish was also a finalist at the tournament in 2003.

“I’ve been out here long enough to know not to take these kinds of matches for granted and move on,” said Fish, who has been battling thyroid illness since November. “Lord knows, I haven’t been feeling the best the past couple of months.”

Kei Nishikori of Japan, who won his only career title here in 2008, beat Brian Dabul of Argentina 6-2, 7-6 (5). Nishikori, returning from elbow surgery in August 2009, will play James Blake in the second round.

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, working his way back onto the tour after right wrist surgery last year, had a 6-4, 6-1 first round win over Richard Berankis of Lithuania.

Six players from the scheduled main draw have come down with flu-like symptoms.

Top seed Andy Roddick pulled out of the event on Monday. Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic withdrew over the weekend. American Ryan Harrison was sick on court and lost his match on Monday.

On Tuesday, Phau and Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic abandoned matches feeling sick, and Michel Przysiezny of Poland never made it to the court.

MEXICAN OPEN

AP, ACAPULCO, MEXICO

Second-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain was knocked out in the first round of the Mexican Open, losing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci on Tuesday.

Verdasco was bundled out in the first round of the RMK Championships in Memphis last week by Milos Raonic, who beat him in the SAP Open title the previous week.

Bellucci converted 75 percent of his break points and won 70 percent of his service points to beat Verdasco in just over two hours late on Tuesday.

Earlier, third-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain took a confident step toward his third straight title with an easy 6-3, 6-2 win over Victor Hanescu of Romania.

Almagro won the Copa Claro on Sunday in Buenos Aires and the Brazil Open the week before — both on clay, the surface in Mexico.

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