China’s Peng Shuai booked her second-round berth at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday with a three-set win over former champion Vera Zvonareva, while Lauren Davis of the US earned a meeting with third seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus — the 2012 champion — with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan.
Zvonareva, a former world No. 2 who was sidelined for all of last year with an illness and a right shoulder injury, had been seeking just her second win since the 2012 Olympic Games, but was unable to make her wild card go far as she fell 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Peng, who last month attained the world No. 1 doubles ranking, broke Zvonareva five times in the final two sets to seal the victory in 2 hours, 21 minutes.
The 28-year-old next faces 18th seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the singles. Before that she was due to team up with world No. 2 doubles player, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, yesterday as the No. 1 seeds faced Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia.
In the singles action on Wednesday, British qualifier Heather Watson lined up a second-round clash with second seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
Nadia Petrova, another Russian former top-five player who received a wild card into the draw as she tries to get her season on track, also fell at the first hurdle.
Petrova, who missed the Australian Open in the wake of her mother’s death in December last year in a traffic accident, retired with a right-leg injury after splitting the first two games against Spain’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Soler next takes on 22nd seed Alize Cornet of France in the second round.
Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger set up a second-round meeting with another former champion, seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, after defeating Iveta Melzer 6-4, 6-2.
Japan’s Kurumi Nara, who won her first WTA title at the Rio Open two weeks previously, defeated US qualifier Allie Kiick 6-4, 6-0 to book a meeting with sixth seed Simona Halep of Romania.
Australian Open champion Li Na is the top seed in the women’s draw, with defending champion Maria Sharapova, seeded fourth, drawn in the same half.
Men’s first-round action began yesterday, with unseeded players jockeying for position in a field headed by defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Nadal faces a tricky draw, with fifth seed Andy Murray in his quarter.
Seventh seed Roger Federer is in the same half of the draw, in the same quarter as fellow Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka, who is playing his first tournament since beating Nadal in the Australian Open final.
The men’s draw is anchored by second seed Novak Djokovic.
Nadal is set to launch his campaign against either Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic or Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who were due to play yesterday.
Additional reporting by staff writer