Pironkova goes through as sore Li Na pulls out

AP, PARIS

Thu, Feb 09, 2012 - Page 20

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.

? PATTAYA OPEN

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.