Thu, Feb 09, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Pironkova goes through as sore Li Na pulls out


Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova gets ready to serve to Li Na of China in their Open GDF Suez match at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris, France, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

French Open champion Li Na retired with a sore back in the second set of her opening match at the Open GDF Suez against Tsvetana Pironkova on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Li took a medical timeout while trailing 7-6 (7/5), 3-2 to have her lower back massaged by a physiotherapist and she played a couple more points before retiring.

“I was feeling my back ... It was so painful,” Li said. “That’s why I called the physio to come to the court. I tried to tape and then tried to play the point, but it didn’t work. I’ll go to the hospital to take an MRI to see what happened.”

Li rallied from a 5-0 deficit to force a tiebreaker, but she then double-faulted at 3-2 to give Pironkova a mini-break. The unseeded Bulgarian took the first set on a forehand error from Li, before jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the second.

“I played last week in the Fed Cup in Israel, I played some good matches which helped for my form and for my confidence,” Pironkova said. “So I felt pretty good coming here and I’m glad I could show it on the court today against such a world-class player.”

Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, Petra Martic of Croatia and Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa also advanced to the second round, along with three German players — Julia Goerges, Angelique Kerber and Mona Barthel.

Goerges cruised past Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-3.

The sixth-seeded German won nine straight games to take the first set and go 4-0 up in the second.

Kerber beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).

A two-time finalist at the tournament, Safarova served seven double faults and made numerous unforced errors.

Kerber broke Safarova twice in the first set. The US Open semi-finalist then won five straight points to lead 5-1 in the tiebreaker, clinching victory when Safarova’s backhand return sailed long.

Scheepers ousted Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-2, 6-2, Barthel eased past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, Cetkovska defeated Italian lucky loser Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-3 and Martic beat Greta Arn of Hungary 6-4, 6-4.

Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic withdrew on Tuesday because of a left-thigh strain she picked up in Serbia’s 3-2 win over Belgium in the Fed Cup last week.


AP, PATTAYA, Thailand

Russia’s Vera Zvonareva easily advanced to the quarter-finals of the Pattaya Open yesterday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.

Zvonareva is looking for her third Pattaya title and she led 5-1 in the second set, before being broken when she tried to serve out the match.

However, she broke right back to clinch the victory.

The eighth-ranked Zvonareva will play Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who beat Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-2.

Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn also advanced to the quarter-finals after saving three set points in the first-set tiebreaker to defeat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.

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